Slept poorly? Chances are you'll misbehave at work

Foto: Shanghai killer whale

It probably sounds familiar: a head full of worries, a noisy neighbour, or something else keeping you from sleeping properly – and still having to get up early for work. But one bad night of sleep isn’t that big a deal, is it? Well, it is. As little as one night like this makes it more likely that employees will engage in unwanted behaviour at work such as taking long breaks, leaving early, or even stealing. 

That’s what Laura M. Giurge from the Rotterdam School of Management (Erasmus University Rotterdam) discovered. Many people probably have the occasional urge to leave the office early without permission – but most of the time that urge is easy to control. A bad night's sleep can undermine that ability to regulate your impulses.

The study shows that behaving badly at work is not a fixed character trait, says Giurge. It can vary from day to day, even within the same person. Whatever the reason for starting this type of behaviour, a night of poor sleep can make it harder to stop doing it. Tiredness can apparently make it harder for people to overcome the feeling that they have failed and try again the next day. This can lead into a possibly destructive cycle, Giurge says, that could help to explain why unethical behaviour is so persistent in organisations. 

For more on this research, click here!


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