As I sat at my desk chugging down a cafe mocha in a lame attempt to not pass out at work this morning, I had a good laugh over a recent (March 3) release from the National Sleep Foundation. Apparently, adults in America don’t sleep enough. What’s more, nearly one-third (29%) of workers have felt “sleepy” at work in the past month.
Egads! I can’t believe this nonsense! People are overworked and under-rested, and it shows in the daily work performance?!?
I guess I shouldn’t bash the NSF too badly, as the organization I work for is also often poked fun of for releasing studies with “obvious” results. I do find it a little strange, however, that the above statistic is the one garnering all the media attention, often being spun as 3 in 10 Americans *fall asleep* at work, even though the vast majority of respondents most likely did not actually fall asleep, but rather just felt sleepy. I don’t know about you, but I’m sleepy at work probably 90% of the time.
A much scarier statistic is this:
36 percent have nodded off or fallen asleep while driving.
This is not “felt sleepy while driving.” This is saying that more than one-third of people have actually closed their eyes long enough to be considered nodding off while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. Isn’t that a little more concerning than being sleepy at work, considering most of us do not operate heavy machinery while at work? Admittedly, there are some jobs where it can be potentially deadly to fall asleep. For me, however, and most likely the vast majority of other people out there, the worst that could happen if we fell asleep on the job would be the vast embarrassment felt when the picture taken of us drooling on our desk circulates among the entire department.
Or, if we’re going to focus on the important parts of this study, how about this statistic?
65 percent of Americans report experiencing a sleep problem, such as difficulty falling asleep, waking during the night, and waking feeling unrefreshed at least a few times each week, with nearly half (44%) of those saying they experience that sleep problem almost every night.
Two-thirds of Americans have sleep issues and nearly half of those say they have these problems most of the time. Does that not suggest we have some serious issues in this country? Being one of those people who has sleep problems every night, I can say with full surety that my inability to get a good night’s rest impacts my daily productivity. Sleepiness decreases motivation to do things like write thesis chapters, or even roll my ass off the couch. It keeps me from going to the gym on a regular basis. It leads me to stay up later because I couldn’t get everything done during the day, which means I’ll sleep less that night, thus encouraging the never-ending, downward spiral of sleep problems.
Maybe, just maybe, if Americans didn’t have to work so hard, or feel obliged to overbook themselves at every turn, or be the model citizen/parent/employee/etc., we would be a happier nation. Do I see this happening anytime soon? Hell no. Do I see myself changing many of my sleep-depriving ways? Most likely no. But to the vast majority of people out there who constantly bitch about not sleeping enough, why don’t you just cut it out, because everyone around you is in the same leaky boat, and if you keep bitchy, we might just throw you overboard.