Whether it is shift work, technology or social pressures keeping us up at night, the idea of a society that is always “on” is unlikely to go away.
But that does not mean people cannot change how they fit into it — particularly when it comes to getting good sleep, according to Russell Foster, a professor of Circadian Neuroscience at the University of Oxford.
Employees are not necessarily able to make all the decisions regarding the hours they work.
But Professor Foster said people whose work hours fall outside the usual 9:00am to 5:00pm grind do not need to accept a sleep-deprived existence as a given.
Professor Foster said raising awareness about the importance of a well-rested workforce was paramount — to benefit not only employees’ health, but the quality of their work output as well.
”I think there’s still the idea that sleep is for wimps, that it’s a badge of honour that you’ve spent all night working,” he said.
The dangers of sleep deprivation
Recognising that sleep-deprived workers will be cognitively-impaired is crucial not only while they are at work, but during their commute as well, Professor Foster said.
”So in the trucking industry for example in North America, they measure eye roll and as the eye moves back, it’s an indication that you’re going to fall asleep.
“So to stop these trucks going into other cars or anywhere else, they’re given an auditory alert to let them know they’re falling asleep.”
”Memory consolidation, processing of information, the clearance of toxins, tissue repair — all of those essential house-keeping functions are going on.”