Longer Work Days Leave Americans Nodding Off on the Job
Posted April 30, 2008
Prolonged work days that often extend late into the night may cause Americans to fall asleep or feel sleepy at work, drive drowsy and lose interest in sex, according to a new Sleep in America poll released in March 2008 by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).
Spending an average of nearly 4.5 hours each week doing additional work from home on top of a 9.5 hour average workday, Americans are working more and are trying to cope with the resulting daytime sleepiness. In fact, 63 percent state they are very likely to just accept their sleepiness and keep going, while 32 percent are very likely to use caffeinated beverages when they are sleepy during the day and more than half are at least somewhat likely to use their weekends to try to catch up on sleep.
Of those taking their work home with them, 20 percent say they spend 10 or more additional hours each week and 25 percent spend at least 7 additional hours each week on job-related duties. Almost 1/4 of all respondents did job-related work in the hour before going to bed at least a few nights each week.
Working too much and sleeping too little takes a serious toll on people's professional and personal lives. The poll finds:
- Twenty-nine percent of those polled fell asleep or became very sleepy at work in the past month.
- Thirty-six percent have nodded off or fallen asleep while driving, with 32 percent reporting that they drive drowsy at least 1 to 2 times per month and 26 percent drive drowsy during the workday.
- Twenty percent have sex less often or have lost interest in sex because they are too sleepy.
- Fourteen percent have missed family events, work functions and leisure activities in the past month due to sleepiness.
- Twelve percent were late to work in the past month because of sleepiness.
"Nearly 50 million Americans chronically suffer from sleep problems and disorders that affect their careers, their personal relationships and safety on our roads," said Darrel Drobnich, NSF acting chief executive officer. "Longer workdays and more access to colleagues and the workplace through the Internet and other technology appear to be causing Americans to get less sleep. Reciprocally, the effects of sleep loss on work performance are costing U.S. employers tens of billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. It's time for American workers and employers to make sleep a priority."
Long workday affects sleep quality
The American workday is getting longer and taking work home at the end of the day has become commonplace. The poll results provide a snapshot of the typical American workday:
- On average, people begin their workday by waking at 5:35 a.m., and spend about 2 hours and 16 minutes at home before heading off to work.
- Work days are getting longer: 1/4 of respondents have a workday that lasts between 8 and 9 hours, another 1/4 say that they work between 9 and 10 hours each day, and nearly 1/3 of Americans report working 10 or more hours each day.
- American workers also report spending an average of 4 hours and 26 minutes doing work from home each week, with 20 percent saying they spend 10 or more hours per week doing extra work from home.
A busy schedule and lack of sleep may also affect people's mood while at work. Forty percent of those polled said that they have become impatient with others at least a few times that month, 27 percent said that they frequently found it difficult to concentrate while at work and 20 percent acknowledged that their productivity at work was often lower than they expected.
Source: National Sleep Foundation