Think again. A new study reveals that losing just a meager 16 minutes of sleep can seriously affect your job performance the next day, leading to distraction, poor judgement and a spike in stress levels.
The study, led by researchers across multiple US universities, evaluated diary data from 130 middle-aged workers at an unidentified US information technology firm.
For eight consecutive days, the participants were asked to record how often they experienced "off-task and distracting thoughts" during the work day. A score of zero corresponded to "never," and a score of four meant "very often," according to the study. In addition, the participants were asked to report their bed times, wake times, sleep quality, sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) and sleep duration.
The results revealed that when participants slept less and had poorer quality sleep than usual, they were more likely to experience cognitive interference the next day in the form of poorer judgment, distracting thoughts and worse concentration, among other issues.
In fact, losing just 16 minutes of sleep off participants' usual snooze times led to an increase in cognitive interference the next day. The association between sleep and next-day cognitive interference was also more apparent on workdays than non-workdays.
"Our results suggest bidirectional associations between poorer sleep and more cognitive interference, particularly on work days, with implications for workday productivity and quality of life," the study's abstract concludes.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a third of US adults say they get less than seven hours, the minimum recommended amount, of sleep a night.
Not getting sufficient sleep is associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression and can lead to motor vehicle crashes and a decrease in worker productivity, the CDC warns on its website.
For children and adolescents, sleep is particularly important for brain development. A lack of sleep among these age groups is suspected to affect the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that regulates hormone production, appetite and even energy expenditure.