Missing just minutes of sleep can affect your performance in the workplace

New research says that losing just a few minutes of sleep can damage your judgement, concentration and productivity.

When it comes to health and wellbeing, sleep is crucial. Earlier this month, researchers busted some of the most harmful myths surrounding sleep.

For instance, while many people think they can get by on five hours of sleep or less per night, there’s evidence that this increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and can even cut your life expectancy.

But missing out on sleep affects you in your day-to-day life, too. And if you stay up past your bedtime from time to time, you’re probably already paying the price, because a new study has found that losing just a quarter of an hour of sleep a night is enough to impair your judgement and concentration at work.

A team of researchers from the University of South Florida looked at the sleep quality and work performance of 130 adults who worked in IT.

Shockingly, they found that getting 16 minutes less sleep than usual was enough to cause problems with focus, concentration and judgement the next day. And these issues had a knock-on effect on the workers’ stress levels and productivity, resulting in poorer performance at work.

Dr Soomi Lee, who led the research, was inspired to carry out the study by her own experiences. "If I have poor sleep the previous night, I find that it interferes with my daily life," she told the Mail Online.

"So I was wondering if sleep was associated with work performance."

Now, she’s calling on workplaces to help their employees to make sleep a bigger priority.

"Work interfering with resting activities can affect sleep and affect work activity," she explained. "That means overtime work hours, phone calls and emails from supervisors after working hours, and early-bird meetings."

Want to be more productive at work? Then it’s time to start clocking off on time – and while you’re at it, log out of your work emails and put your phone on silent. You’re welcome.