The Impact of Sleep


The Impact of Sleep. Never as tired as when you’re waking up? Ever felt like you’d never be able to sleep again? Do you feel tired throughout the day, yet have trouble falling asleep?

The facts and figures

Many people do. In Europe, all sleep disorders combined affect nearly one in every four inhabitants. One third is tired throughout the day. In the US, the issue has been heavily researched. There are over 70 different sleep disorders that affect people in the developed world. 60% of Americans say they have sleep problems a couple nights per week –or more. The large majority of these problems go untreated and in addition, over 40% of Americans suffer from sleepiness during the day that’s severe enough to have an impact on their daily activities, at least two days every month. One in every five Americans, has trouble sleeping a few days a week or more.

The effects

Sleep problems and deprivation often lead to irritability, being unable to restraint yourself and general gloominess. These are the first of a long list of symptoms a sleep deprived person will suffer, says Ph. D. Dinges, who researched the subject together with Ph.D. Van Dongen.

If you continue to sleep too little, you’ll experience apathy and slower speech. Your memory will suffer too and you’ll no longer be able to multitask properly (though you probably shouldn’t be doing that anyway, as you can read here).

On average, a healthy person needs about eight hours of sleep a night. Of course, this need varies from person to person and some will still be able to function properly with a mere six hours of sleep, while others desperately need ten hours a night.

Women vs men

Another intriguing fact is that women need more sleep than men, according to research of the British newspaper ‘The Sun’. When women suffer from sleep deprivation, they experience stress, hostile feelings, depression and anger. Men on the other hand feel none of this, explains Professor Jim Horne who’s the director of the Sleep Research Center at Loughborough University. All in all, the difference between the genders is rather small: women need an extra 20 minutes, which comes down to a little over 4%.


Sleep deprivation can have serious immediate consequences such as high-profile traffic accidents, but many of its consequences are less visible. Dr. Roehrs studied the effect of sleepiness on risk taking and decision making, by paying sleepy and well rested subjects for completing a series of tasks. At random moments, he gave subjects the choice of either taking their money and quit, or working further for an undisclosed amount of time to earn more, under the condition that they’d lose everything if they didn’t complete their tasks in time. He found that alert people were better in estimating how much time they’d need to finish a given task, as well as having a better understanding of the risks that come with taking on extra tasks. Sleepy subjects either quit the tasks before they were completed, or doubled down and risked to lose everything even when it was 100% sure they’d lose the wager.

Costs of sleep deprivation

The total annual cost of sleep problems in the US is about $16 million. The sum of all indirect costs however, amounts to a massive $100 billion, according to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research. One major contributor to those indirect costs, is the lower productivity of people that comes with having trouble sleeping. Sanofi-Aventis, a pharmaceutical giant, funded a survey that tried to map the cost of that productivity loss.

The results are clear: an employee suffering from insomnia costs a company roughly $3150, while employees suffering from smaller sleeping issues cost up to $2500 per individual. On top of that, sufferers from insomnia miss five days more a year than those who sleep well, which only adds to the already high costs.

Sleep modules

That’s why we at Hercules Academy have developed a new workshop that fits neatly in our physical module. It’s aptly named “Sleep Baby Sleep”. In 90 minutes, we will help you deal with bad sleeping rituals through an informative presentation and exercises. You’ll learn how to get maximum results energy wise out of a short night’s sleep, how to easily fall asleep when your mind keeps puzzling about your work, how to wake up feeling well rested and much more. You’ll even learn how to manage your energy and goals through sleeping. Together, we’ll make you feel better and more productive. A few small changes, often go a long way.