How Sleep Deprivation Could Ruin Your Career

by May 20, 2019

With semester getting hectic, it’s easy to sacrifice sleep in favor of finishing that list minute assignment, or bingeing Dead to Me on Netflix. But a lack of sleep can actually have a huge impact on your daily life, and getting into the habit of subsisting on less than 7-8 hours a night can have long lasting side effects that could negatively impact your career.

Symptoms of sleep deprivation

A lack of sleep can cause a whole range of issues – both physical and psychological – that can severely impact your productivity, ability to connect with others, and energy to advance at work.

Having limited sleep can result in:

  • A weaker immune system, making you more likely to get a cold;
  • A change in blood pressure;
  • Has been linked to diabetes and obesity;
  • Memory loss;
  • Decreased ability to learn;
  • Slower reaction times;
  • And can increase your risk of a stroke, if you chronically don’t get enough sleep.

Claudia Aguirre did a talk for TED-Ed on what can happen when you miss out on sleep. Check it out:

How it can affect your work (or study) life

In the workplace (or while you’re at uni), a lack of sleep can mean poorer work and a more difficult time connecting with other.

Missing sleep can affect your mood, decreasing your interpersonal communication skills and damaging your ability to work in a team. It can also lead to a change in your mood, making work and study uninspiring and promoting a more depressive outlook on the day-to-day.

Sleep deprivation also affects your memory, making it more likely that you’ll miss deadlines, forget key tasks, or even leave your Opal card at home. It can also make it more difficult for you to formulate ideas or answer questions from your supervisor (or tutor).

You’ll also notice a loss of focus alongside any lack of sleep, which can mean more mistakes (and lower grades), more time spent on projects, and a more difficult time paying attention in meetings (or lectures).

Combined, these side effects can really affect your career and make it less likely you’ll get a promotion or build the skills you need to get ahead. It could even lead to fewer job prospects or you being let go from your job, so it’s important you set time aside to get a proper night’s sleep.

But what if you can’t sleep?

If you have difficulty falling asleep on a regular basis, you should really talk to your doctor to get some advice on how to get back into that sweet circadian rhythm.

In the meantime, maybe give yourself some space for a little TLC around bedtime. Essential oils such as lavender have long been reported as helpful sleep aids for those with mild sleep disturbances, and many stores now sell sprays that you can apply to your pillow before sleep. Even a bath right before bed with some of these oils can help you unwind and relax after a stressful day, putting you in a better mindset for sleep.

You could also try podcasts as an option, if your main issue is trying to get your mind off the day’s stressors. Listening to a podcast as you fall asleep lets you focus on something else, and can take your mind off whatever it is that is plaguing your thoughts at night.

Mainly though, schedule your days to give yourself enough time to get a full 8 hours sleep each night. This reduces the stressful thought cycle of ‘omg I need to get to sleep, I need to get up early tomorrow!’ which is inevitably followed by some pretty stressed out attempts at sleeping (an oxymoron if I’ve ever seen one). This won’t be possible every night, but making the effort is important for your ongoing well-being.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

By Mia Casey

By Mia Casey


Mia is a Sydney-based copywriter and content creator, who has run the UTS Careers Blog since its conception in 2016.
Her freelance work focuses on branding development and helping companies create a cohesive identity narrative tailored for each of their platforms.
She enjoys piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.