SAD news arose in early October when it was shared that a young auditor had died while driving home. He was overworked and lacked sleep.

That piece of news has been shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook alone and caused a number of young workers to also speak out against the crazy culture of overworking your employees (I noticed that usually the nominally paid ones are the most exploited) to the point of illness or, in this case, death.

The three pillars of health are nutrition, exercise and sleep.

I notice that people tend to focus on one of the three, ignoring the remaining two. If any of these are compromised, our bodies will react, never for our betterment.

Lack of sleep will obviously cause slow responses, for example, during driving or while your boss is talking to you.

Generally, lack of sleep affects our cognitive function adversely. There is a decline in decision-making, short-term memory and mathematical processing.

A 2002 study done by the US Army Physical Fitness Research Institute found that these functions decrease by 25% for every night when there is no sleep.

I’m not sure if employers really care about this. I remember the times, when I was a fresh graduate and newly employed, nobody left the office at the usual 6pm.

A respectable 7.30 or 8pm was more often the case, and of course, the later one leaves, the more respectable it is!

Who cares if your brain is functioning at 20% of its usual capacity and you’re more likely to make mistakes that need to be cleaned up all over again the next morning.

Of course, in the case of some industries, like certain sectors of banking and, in the above case, auditing, 4am is likely to be a respectable time to go home.

Who cares if you fall asleep at the wheel or lack the cognitive ability to respond quickly in an emergency while driving.

Aside from the functional purpose of brain power for employment, lack of sleep has also been linked to loads of metabolic conditions.

Basically, sleep deprivation causes a hormonal disruption in the body that makes us hungry all the time, usually craving simple carbs.

As a result of this, and a few other factors, sleep deprivation usually results in higher blood sugar, higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, all of which usually leads to heart conditions or other metabolic disorders.

If this doesn’t bother employers, especially those that offer medical insurance, I’m not sure what will.

I wonder if because there was this culture of work till you drop previously, bosses now feel everyone has to experience the same.

Apparently, though, Malaysians are aware that poor sleep leads to health problems.

An infographic by a local newspaper has revealed that nine out of 10 Malaysians know that health problems will arise if they lack sleep.

According to that infographic, the average Malaysian sleeps 6.3 hours a day (a deficit of 1 hour plus of sleep), while 66% face sleep problems at least once a week.

Forty per cent face headaches, while 37% experience fatigue as well as have problems thinking and concentrating.

Fifty-two per cent say that poor sleep arises from stress, anxiety and depression.

But it is a vicious cycle because a poorly rested body is a stressed body.

Lack of sleep now has also been linked to certain cancers and also increases the Alzheimer’s protein in the brain! I guess one can’t blame the employers entirely.

Clients usually expect miracles on a shoestring and businesses bend over backwards to accommodate. But as an employer, surely you’d view your workers as assets?

More than 10 years ago, a HR specialist told me they are trying to move away from the term “human resources” to “human capital”, because resources tend to waste away while capital accrues yield.

Up to now, I have yet to see much change in corporate culture. And I guess that’s why I left corporate work.


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