Have you ever showed up drunk at work? According to research, you might have without even knowing it.

It wouldn’t be hard for me to believe if you were to tell me that their have been nights in which things were so busy at work that you were only able to get 6 hours of sleep (or less). Your lack of sleep, however, might have been praised by your management and lauded by your teammates for your exemplary commitment to the job, client and/or project.

In my line of work, I have come across many companies in which burning the midnight oil is regarded as a badge of honour. Cultures that praise their employees for sacrificing their sleep and overall wellbeing for the good of the company, which creates a type of worker that comes forward with statements like “You can count on me, no matter what!”

Several extensive scientific studies, like the one published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal, have stated that even moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments equivalent to those of alcohol intoxication.

A few nights of getting only 6 hours of sleep and your cognitive impairment will be equivalent to you having a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .05% (legally drunk in may countries). Additional nights were you are only getting 6 hours (or less) of sleep, will raise that equivalent to a BAC of .1% – legally drunk in almost every country around the world.

Other studies like the one published in the National Library of Medicine, showed that if you only get six hours of sleep per night for two weeks in a row, your performance drop-off will equate to someone who has gone 24 hours without sleep and will manifest the following side-effects:

– Difficulty concentrating
– Falling asleep at inappropriate times throughout the day
– Losing your temper (at work and at home)
– Failing to recall information
– Behaving inappropriately (at work and at home)

So coming to work after having slept less than 7 hours (even though you might think that you can still cope with your work day), is basically like showing up to work drunk without the smell of alcohol on your breath.

Sacrificing your sleep doesn’t look that sexy now, doesn’t it?


A company culture is not some external entity that governs and dictates what you should value and how you should behave. A company culture is the sum of individual’s beliefs and behaviours, so if you would like to bring a healthy influence to your organisation and help it raise its game, follow the these recommendations:

1) Have the courage to say NO. If a client, manager or colleague has grown accustomed to assigning you work on a regular basis that contributes to your sleep depravation (frequent last minute requests, exaggerated demands, etc.), explain to him/her the quality that you could bring to your work together if you take proper care of your body & mind.

2) Be a role model. Once you decide to adopt healthy practices, let everyone around you know what you are doing, how your choices are making you feel, and the impact your new habits are having in your performance at work and the quality of you personal life.

3) Challenge unhealthy practices. If you notice that your colleagues are engaging in unhealthy habits for the sake of their work, don’t judge them. Simply help them to raise their awareness about the impact of their choices with questions like : How are these behaviours making you feel? How are your choices impacting the quality of your work? How long do you think will you be able to sustain this way of working? How proud are the people you care for of your present lifestyle and work style choices?

Remember what Gandhi once said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”