Sleep & work performance

You have probably experienced it. Those days when you doubt whether you'll get through the day after a bad night. Sleep deprivation has a serious impact on the quality, effectiveness and creativity of your work. And when you are a manager, the lack of sleep of your colleagues can make sure that nothing comes of your well-intentioned ideas. It is also true that people who are structurally sleep deprived are more difficult to manage. It is difficult to create commitment and focus.

A working day demands a lot of energy from your body and brain and a good night's sleep is the only way to provide you with that energy. Just think about what an average workday asks of you:

  • You need to be able to maintain focus, solve problems, make decisions and remember important information.
  • You have to work with colleagues and take into account different personalities.
  • You have to perform at client meetings or meetings.
  • You also need to be able to perform physically at times.

For all these skills, sleep is essential. Not only in quantity but also definitely in quality. Simply put the better you sleep the better and happier you can do your job.

You probably don't notice the difference between 6 or 8 hours sleep, but your brain certainly does!

Sleep deprivation among the population is common. Nearly ⅓ of the Dutch population does not sleep enough for optimal physical health. For this reason, sleep deprivation has also been officially designated as a health problem for a number of years.

Insomnia is defined as: having difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep at least three times a week, together with poorer daytime functioning.

The first step to solving a problem is understanding what you are dealing with. Using ... examples, we'll show you how sleep affects your workday:

Physio Tilburg

Cognitive skills

Cognition is the ability to plan, learn, reason and solve problems. Every time you find yourself in a situation that is new to you, your cognition starts working for you. One of the most used cognitive skill is the ability to keep your attention somewhere. When you are rested you notice that your focus is often better than when you have slept badly. Your attention is often in all directions and focusing on your work turns out to be very difficult. You probably recognize this and grab your phone faster or simply let your thoughts wander more often. To your colleagues it can seem as if you are not interested or not in your head. While this is exactly not your intention.


Problem solving ability

Lack of sleep prevents your rational brain from functioning properly. The chance of making bad choices is therefore much greater. This can make it more difficult to set realistic goals, to plan well and to assess possible risks. When your work becomes more complex and when your choices influence the work of your colleagues, sufficient sleep is necessary to take all these factors into account and make the right choices.

Tilburg Fysio


REM sleep is the stage of sleep where your brain is most active and you can, for instance, dream vividly. Apparently, this phase is essential for your daily dose of creativity. You could almost say that during sleep, people think up all kinds of creative solutions to their daily problems. So if you want to be bursting with creativity during the day, make sure you get enough sleep!


Without the necessary sleep, your mood is often not too good. People with a lack of sleep are much more susceptible to mood swings and even depression. In the long run, this can cause serious mental problems. At work this can manifest itself in a snarl towards your colleague or an outburst of anger about nothing at all. After a good night's sleep you are much better able to react in a correct way to different situations. You are much more likely to give colleagues the benefit of the doubt instead of going off on a tangent. In the long run, this is much better for the working atmosphere.


Sleep deprivation affects your ability to recognize what other people may be feeling or going through. It therefore makes you less empathetic. Emotional literacy is an important skill at work. If you continue to exhibit non-socially desirable behavior more often in the workplace, it will not benefit the mutual relationships with your colleagues and ultimately not your job satisfaction. Also when you don't recognize signals from people around you quickly enough, it becomes more difficult for you to chair a meeting for example, to lead your team or to close an important deal. Think about performance interviews that can end totally wrong when you do not recognize the right signals on time.

Physical influence

A poor night's sleep has quite an impact on your body, especially after several nights in a row. You start to get sleepy at times when you should actually be fully occupied with your work. For example, when you have to physically work with heavy machinery, your judgment and reaction time must be at its peak to avoid accidents. Serious sleep deprivation has the same effect on our bodies as alcohol. Research has shown that when people have not slept for 17 hours, their reaction time is equal to a blood alcohol level of 0.05%. After 24 hours this percentage is even 0.1%, which is the same as being drunk. Sleep deprivation therefore affects your performance during the day in many different ways.

So how do you sleep better?

Now that you have a better understanding of how sleep can potentially affect your work performance, we'll give you some tips in how to sleep more efficiently.

  • RESPECT your sleep. It's more than just a few hours of recuperation. It's a vital part of your health. Just as important as nutrition and physical exercise.
  • Create an ideal sleeping environment. A nice bed, dark room and cool room (18 degrees Celsius seems the ideal temperature) provide the right conditions.
  • Make a habit of the times you go to bed and wake up again.
  • So before bed, choose activities that calm your brain. Your phone, TV or laptop certainly won't do that. Reading, showering or taking a bath will. You can also opt for some relaxation exercises or a short walk outside.
  • Alcohol has a negative effect on your sleep quality. Even that one glass a day.
  • Stop drinking coffee (caffeine) in time. Caffeine needs about 8 hours to work itself out. So after 14.00 preferably no coffee.
  • Take into account the number of hours you want to sleep. Also take into account 15 minutes of sleep time. 7-9 hours is recommended for adults. If you sport intensively then you are really towards 9 hours.
  • When you really can't sleep get out of bed for 15 minutes and do something else. When you stay awake in bed, the brain does not associate the bed with something relaxing. If this happens often enough, it will become increasingly difficult to find relaxation in your bed.

Sleeping better doesn't have to be that hard. See if you can apply a few of these tips and notice the difference in energy! Real sleep problems are often not properly recognized and remain untreated for this reason. Should you have structural problems with this, it can do no harm to discuss this with your doctor, for example. Sleep apnea is often attributed to being overweight. This can play a role, but obesity is never the only reason for sleep problems. Besides a varied diet and sufficient exercise, sleeping better is also important for your health. People have to go to bed sometime. Our advice is to arrange this as well as possible for better performance at work but also for your own mood!

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