Sleep Deprived? Here's How Your Coworkers Can Tell

Sleep Deprived? Here's How Your Coworkers Can Tell

Whether you’re a mom up all night tending to a cranky baby or a “Scandal” binge-watcher who can’t hit pause until the wee hours, the result is the same: Lack of sleep transforms you into a groggy mess at work the next day.

Now, a new study reveals another hazard of sleep deprivation, one that could potentially have huge implications when it comes to your performance on the job.

After just one night without enough high-quality sleep, your ability to recognize certain kinds of emotional cues takes a dive, according to University of Arizona researchers.


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In the study, obvious emotional cues — a smile indicating happiness, for example, or a grimace to convey being sad — were accurately identified by most of the research participants. But for less obvious cues, things didn't go so well. The sleep-deprived participants had a harder time interpreting understated facial expressions indicating happiness and sadness.

The study, published in the journal Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms, didn't focus specifically on workplace interactions. But it makes sense that if your emotional radar is on the fritz after a sleepless night, it could affect how you relate to your boss and coworkers the next day at work.

Think about it: When you're tired, you may not realize that your boss is less than wowed by the solutions you proposed in your a.m. brainstorming meeting, or that a junior team member is disappointed because she didn't get enough credit for a project she coordinated. And you can't fix what you didn't notice was wrong to start with.

But having a malfunctioning mood detector is just one of the potential problems caused by sleep deprivation. There are other ways your performance and work rep can suffer by having a restless night. While you're under the impression that you're holding it all together and hiding those dark circles, here's what your office might notice.

You're snappy and irritable. As anyone who's ever pulled a couple of all-nighters to meet a work or school deadline knows, lack of sleep has a huge effect on mood. You might not realize that you're being short-tempered with the office intern or overreacting to a paper jam. But your coworkers and higher-ups will.

You're taking more PTO. Research has linked sleep deprivation with lowered immune functioning; one 2015 study found that sleeping less than six hours a night boosts your odds of catching a cold. Chronically not getting enough rest could force you to deal with health issues by taking sick leave, and anyone with access to your calendar will see how many PTO days you've marked.

You're not on your game. Are you usually the first one to rattle off sales figures in meetings? Can you remember every client's name since you started your career? Being mentally sharp may have helped you score an amazing rep in your field. But since sleep deprivation affects cognitive thinking, these powers will suffer and coworkers will wonder what's slowing you down.

Recognize yourself in any of these? Start committing to getting more shuteye — your next promotion or salary bump might depend on it.

RELATED: How Your Sleep Deprivation Is Wrecking Your Career


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