This is the first installment of our special series this week about sleep. Please check back again for more information.
What is sleep?
Physiological sleep is a complex process of restoration and renewal for the body. Scientists still do not have a definitive explanation as to why people need sleep. However, we do know that sleep is not a passive process or an act of putting off body functions; sleep is in integral part of many physiological processes, including the processing of experiences and ability to recall. The essentially of sleep can not be over emphasized, not only for man but for virtually all animals.
The importance of sleep is underlined by the symptoms experienced by people who suffer from sleep problems. People who suffer from sleep disorders do not get adequate or restorative sleep, and sleep deprivation has one form of disorder or another, either physically or emotionally.
What is causes the body to sleep?
Sleep is influenced by circadian rhythms (regular body changes mental and physical characteristics that occur in the course of about 24 hours). These are governed by the brains neurons that respond to light, temperature and hormones, and other signals and include the biological clock of the body. This clock helps regulate the “normal” waking and sleeping cycles. Disruption of these cycles can make people drowsy or sleepy; sometimes people want to be awake.
For many of us, sleep is the sweet balm that soothes and restores us after a long day and play. But for those for whom sleep is elusive or otherwise agitated, the problem is much more fraught. Most people, at some point experience difficulty in sleeping.
Others, parasomnias like sleep apnea, nightmares, narcolepsy, and sleep paralysis are surprisingly common. The good news is that, there are treatments for sleep disorders; with new developments appearing every month.
The Social Costs of Inadequate Sleep
As a result of the constant pull away from sleeping on the needs of daily life is the undercutting of social skills and relationships. This could damage the quality of both personal and professional relationships. It can also undermine trust, teamwork and cooperation that exist between the people at work and within the family units at home. It’s a shocking irony that in striving to meet work and family demands by borrowing from sleep, people are likely weakening the very relationships and connections that are the underlying heart of these requirements.
While acknowledging that compromise, inadequate sleep can hurt family and personal relationships; it can also bear significant benefit at work. I will focus on poor sleep negative influence on the workplace relationships and social behavior. In recent years, there has been a growing scientific interest in the effects of sleep in the workplace relationships, and behavior. While there is much for us to learn, we develop a better understanding than ever before about how bad sleep can disrupt and undermine individual and collective behavior:
• Emotional re-activity. Lack of sleep increases emotional re-activity, which makes people hot-tempered, quick to judge, and more emotionally volatile. Insomnia makes people less adept at managing their emotions at work. One study examined the medical residents and sleep deprivation found a direct negative impact on their ability to control their emotions had. Low on sleep residents reacted with more negativity to interruptions during their workdays. There also appear less positive reactions to events that helped to meet their work-related goals.
• Teamwork. A growing body of research specifically looked at how sleep loss effects team performance. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation hurts team decision-making time, accuracy, and problem solving. Some research has a group effect, where employees work in teams, fewer sleep-related declines in the performance was identified by individuals working separately. Although this may be the case, in some circumstances, it is becoming increasingly clear that teamwork suffers when employees are not getting enough sleep.
• Empathy. Insomnia interferes with our ability to process emotional information, as well as our ability to accurately tell other people’s feeling. For lack of sleep, we are less attuned to how others feel, and much more likely to miss the signals that we would take other important information that fuels constructive relationships. Poor sleep weakens our empathy, the capacity of putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to imagine the feelings of others, and pay full attention to their views. In the workplace, the lack of these key-skill components of emotional intelligence interferes with our working with others, cooperation and trustworthiness. Lack of adequate sleep not only affects our empathy level at work but also in personal relationships with employees.