Tired at work? Welcome to Generation ZZZZZZZ

Yawning man

Lack of sleep is affecting the performance of more than half of the younger workforce, it seems.

A UK-wide survey in November asked 1,009 people of all ages whether sleep issues had ever stopped them performing at their best at work.

The results suggested so-called ‘Generation Z’ – 18-24 year-olds born near the Millennium – had the highest number of respondents with 67 per cent admitting it had.

Across all ages and genders the impacts were still significant and overall, 55.4 per cent had struggled through a lack of sleep.

The younger ones, including university students and those coming to the job market in the middle of a pandemic. It is also the age group more likely to socialise in the night and stay up later. Whether through stress, insomnia or a busy social life, this latest data suggests sleep is an important factor related to work and learning performance.

“We spend a third of our life asleep and so if a third of our life is not healthy then that is going to have an impact on our performance,” Dan Collins, Director of Fresh Tracks, who advises businesses on performance told the report’s authors, HSE Network.

“When things go wrong, often fatigue plays a part…The impairment for people who are awake for 19 hours is the same as people over the alcohol limit, so sleep deprivation is as serious as alcohol in the workplace.

“You might think we never encourage people to sleep badly but when we ask someone to get on a flight to another time zone or do shift work or situations where sleep is impaired because of the work, that is what we are doing.”

It is easy today to research techniques for helping people to sleep and also to identify how tired they are. Wearable tech can also track sleep patterns for more information on what kind of sleep we are getting each night.

Collins had some practical tips for better sleeping, other than the obvious ones on alcohol before bedtime.

“Routines are important to go to sleep, maybe taking a bath, reading a book or going to sleep at the same time each night. A cooler bedroom temperature is better and avoid stimulants before bed, like coffee and watching screens for news, social media or work emails,” he said.