Covering up a bad night due to late drinks or disturbed sleep is a technique ambitious executives take years to perfect. We all know, exhausted talent is unlikely to get put forward for promotion. Cosmetics, energy drinks and sheer determination have always been enough to conceal those tired eyes, until now.
With an estimated 80% of us secretly claiming we are not getting enough sleep, employers such as NASA and the military are fascinated by recent findings by the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers have studied both rats and humans following normal, shortened and no-sleep. Using blood samples they are able to analyse molecules known as microRNA. Lack of sleep significantly changed microRNA activity, suggesting that a molecular marker from a blood test could indicate our state of wakefulness and whether we need more or less sleep. Much like an alcohol or drug test. And just as important, when we take account of statistics, such as one road death per hour from fatigue. And that’s just in the United States. Employers of drivers and machinery operators have an obligation to consider this research. Similarly, stock traders making multi-million dollar decisions, health care workers and business leaders are all much more likely to make bad choices when tired.
With wearable devices expected to soon be able to monitor blood glucose, some anticipate security swipe cards being replaced by watch like technology that will not only open doors but also tracks our productivity and fitness to work. Whilst, on one hand, this might seem intrusive, if it leads to safer roads, more ethical bankers and doctors that never make a false diagnosis should we resist? The sad reality is that we are living in a society overcome by stress and exhausted by insufficient sleep, maybe a missed promotion for a more relaxed and enjoyable lifestyle would be a price worth paying.