7 Warning Signs Your Team Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep and How It Impacts Performance 

Guest blog by Denise Iordache 

As a sleep therapist with a background in the corporate world, I understand the pressures and demands that leaders and managers face. Sleep is often sacrificed in the pursuit of success, but what many may not realise is the profound impact sleep deprivation can have on both individuals and the entire team.  

In this blog post, we’ll explore seven warning signs that your team might be struggling with sleep and explore how it can impact performance. 

1. Increased Irritability and Mood Swings 

One of the first signs that your team might be sleep-deprived is an increase in irritability and mood swings. We’ve known for a long time that even partial sleep deprivation can lead to increased negative mood and decreased positive mood1. As a team manager, it’s crucial to be attuned to changes in your team’s behaviour and address these shifts with empathy and support. 

2. Decline in Cognitive Performance 

Sleep deprivation significantly impairs cognitive function, leading to a decline in decision-making abilities, problem-solving skills, and overall concentration. Research tells us that sleep deprivation negatively affects cognitive performance across various domains2. If you notice a dip in your team’s cognitive performance, consider the role that sleep might be playing and explore strategies to mitigate these effects.  

3. Increased Frequency of Errors 

A team running on insufficient sleep is more likely to make mistakes3. Whether it’s overlooking details in a report or presentation or making errors in communication, these slip-ups can have effects on productivity and morale. Managers would best focus on fostering a culture that prioritises quality over quantity and encourages open communication about challenges. 

4. Decreased Creativity and Innovation 

We know that quality sleep is essential for creativity and innovation. Therefore, is no surprise that the lack of sleep stifles creativity and limits the ability to think outside the box. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research demonstrated the positive impact of sleep on creative thinking4. As a leader, recognise the importance of a well-rested mind in fostering a workplace culture that values creativity and innovation. 

5. Elevated Stress Levels 

Chronic sleep deprivation is a leading contributor to elevated stress levels, and elevated stress levels can deeply impact sleep. They influence each other5 and team leaders need to recognise signs of stress within their teams, such as increased absenteeism, and actively promote stress-reduction techniques. A helpful approach here would be to encourage breaks, mindfulness practices, and an open dialogue about managing workplace stress. 

6. Impaired Communication 

Sleep-deprived individuals often struggle with effective communication. This can lead to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and a breakdown in teamwork. A study in the Journal of Sleep Research found that sleep deprivation negatively impacts communication skills6. As a manager, prioritise clear communication channels, 1:1 regularly planned meetings, and provide resources for improving interpersonal skills. 

7. Physical Health Decline 

Lack of sleep takes a toll on physical health, compromising the immune system and increasing the risk of illnesses7. Encourage your team to prioritise their well-being, emphasising the importance of adequate sleep, regular exercise, and a balanced diet. 

In addition to the pointers provided above, my 3 Top Tips to help your team would be the following: 

1. Foster a Culture of Work-Life Balance 

Lead by example and promote a culture that values work-life balance. A study in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that a supportive work environment positively influences work-life balance8. Encourage breaks, discourage excessive overtime, and provide resources for stress management. 

2. Provide Sleep Education Workshops 

Organise workshops or bring in experts to educate your team about the importance of sleep. A study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology highlights the effectiveness of sleep education programs in improving sleep quality and well-being9.  

If this is not possible, aim to promote healthy sleep habits by encouraging your team to establish consistent sleep routines, limit screen time before bedtime, and create a calming bedtime environment. The National Sleep Foundation provides guidelines for improving sleep hygiene and establishing healthy sleep habits10

3. Establish a Supportive Environment 

Create an open and supportive environment where team members feel comfortable discussing their sleep challenges. Implement policies that allow for occasional mental health days when needed. The Journal of Organisational Behaviour underscores the importance of a supportive work environment in addressing mental health concerns11

In summary, recognising the signs of sleep deprivation and understanding its impact on performance is essential for all leaders and managers. By taking proactive measures and implementing supportive strategies backed by research, you can contribute to a healthier, more productive workplace.  

I’ve been in your shoes, and I know that prioritising the well-being of your team ultimately leads to a more successful and sustainable work environment. 

This blog was written by Denise Iordache Dip. CBH, Accredited Member of the ACCPH, a sleep therapist & the founder of JoySpace Therapy. Denise is also a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist who helps women worry less and sleep better to perform better at work and home. She helps women realistic, helpful, and healthful behaviours to reduce stress, boost energy, and live joyously.  

With an MA in International Business Communication, Denise spent many years in corporate marketing before becoming a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist. Personal psychology and treatment prompted this new quest. Corporate marketing experience of 18 years informs Denise’s therapy. Her background helps her comprehend corporate clients’ trouble concerns. 

She creates tailored treatment plans using well-researched methods including CBT, hypnosis, and mindfulness to help her clients reach their goals. Major periodicals routinely feature Denise as an expert. She often discusses sleep, anxiety, stress, and loneliness.  

If you or your team are on the lookout for help and support in getting you to sleep better, consider exploring the new 4-week personalised online sleep program offered by Denise at JoySpace TherapySleep Better Perform Better. This is designed exclusively for individualised support, this one-on-one program is crafted to enhance sleep quality and quantity, increase energy levels, improve focus, and address issues related to worry and stress. 

Denise’s Sleep Better Perform Better programme restores energy and breaks sleepless nights. This thorough sleep programme provides personalised instruction beyond typical sleep remedies. By engaging in this programme, you increase your sleep and daytime attention. 


  1. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 


  1. Alhola, P., & Polo-Kantola, P. (2007). Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656292/ 
  1. Barnes, C. M., Miller, J. A., & Bostock, S. (2017). Helping employees sleep well: Effects of cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia on work outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27690480/ 
  1. Cai, D. J., Mednick, S. A., Harrison, E. M., Kanady, J. C., & Mednick, S. C. (2009). REM, not incubation, improves creativity by priming associative networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 


  1. Sleep Foundation (2023), Stress and Insomnia https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/stress-and-insomnia 
  1. Harrison, Y., & Horne, J. A. (2000). The impact of sleep deprivation on decision making: A review. Journal of Experimental Psychology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11014055/ 
  1. Sleep Foundation. (2023). Sleep, Immunity, and COVID-19. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/covid-19-and-sleep 
  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/377067488_The_influence_of_flexible_working_arrangements_and_work-life_balance_on_job_satisfaction_A_double-layered_moderated_mediation_model 
  1. https://www.apa.org/pubs/books/3837777-sample-pages.pdf 
  1. NSF. (2022). Healthy Sleep Tips. National Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/healthy-sleep-tips 
  1. Pescosolido, A. T., Sauter, S. L., & Buch, R. (2020). Help-Seeking Stigma and Mental Health Treatment Seeking. In Research in Occupational Stress and Well-being https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4672863/