Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

This is how much your insomnia actually affects your ability to do your job


It takes just one night of poor sleep to make us destructive and irritable at work, a new study claims.

Rudeness, lateness, selfishness and even stealing are among the “unwanted behaviours” that can arise from a lack of shut eye, according to research by the Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands.

Read more: This new life hack could help you fall asleep

Over 10 days, researcher Laura Giurge questioned a group of professionals to assess how their quality of sleep impacted the way they acted at work. She found that just one bad night’s sleep can result in undesirable conduct.

This is made even worse if those poor sleepers possess a “low moral identity,” which Giurge identifies as “selfish impulses that are not kept in check by self-control.”

The study found that those who pushed the boundaries even just once – such as taking a too-long lunch, or lashing out at a colleague – were more likely to engage in similar “unwanted behaviour” when they were sleep-deprived.

Read more: The top 5 relaxing activities, according to science

Using an example of sneaking home early without telling the boss, Giurge notes that most people resist such urges, while those who don’t feel remorse. However, she says the ability to identify feelings of regret and guilt are impaired by a lack of decent kip.

“It is known that this ability to regulate our impulses can be undermined by having had a bad night – not necessarily just by the amount of sleep, but also by impaired sleep quality.”

Tiredness apparently can make it harder for people to overcome the feeling that they have failed and try again the next day.

Giurge found that some participants responded worse to bad sleep than others and the negative effect of a bad night’s sleep is “not a fixed character trait” but can vary day-to-day among the same people.

The study says going to work on poor sleep could lead to a destructive cycle among staff. It says the research could help explain why unethical behaviour is so persistent in organisations. 

A 2015 Washington State University study published in the journal Sleep found that sleeplessness can cause the brain to “short-circuit” when it comes to decision-making.


sleep feature 2.jpg

A sleep doctor believes none of us are getting enough sleep


These 1930s rules might explain why Danish people are so happy

Why being lazy makes you a superior human, according to science

Are you lazy? Science says it proves something incredible about you…



Golden rules of work happiness from Europe’s female tech leaders

From nap rooms to therapists and no overtime

by Anna Brech
22 Jun 2017

How hot does it have to get before you can legally go home from work?

As temperatures climb, it’s time to talk about your rights

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Jun 2017

Are you self-employed? These newsletters will help your business bloom

On-point emails packed with entrepreneurial tips

by Anna Brech
15 Jun 2017

How changing your name on your CV can boost career success

No deed poll required

by Kayleigh Dray
15 Jun 2017

This nanny job pays £50,000 – but you have to live in a haunted house

So… do you see dead people?

by Kayleigh Dray
15 Jun 2017

Annie Mac nails why maternity leave can be so difficult for many women

“It’s always weird when someone else does your job”

12 Jun 2017

The surprising way being friends with co-workers affects your career

Work wives, assemble

by Sarah Biddlecombe
09 Jun 2017

Laptop with a view: how getting closer to nature fuels creativity

Fire up your imagination by heading outdoors

by Anna Brech
08 Jun 2017

Borrow Amazon’s ‘pizza rule’ for more productive meetings

Napkins at the ready...

by Anna Brech
08 Jun 2017

Women doing ‘men's work’: striking images smash gender clichés

Photographer wants his two-year-old girl to know there are no limits

by Anna Brech
08 Jun 2017