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The Talk

Sleepy on the job? You're not alone

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An important mid-day meeting with Mr. Sandman.
An important mid-day meeting with Mr. Sandman.

Día de los Muertos – The Day of the Dead – typically is celebrated in Mexico in conjunction with Halloween.

But in the U.S., the day of the dead is celebrated (if you want to use that word) in workplaces across the country on the Monday after Daylight Savings Time kicks in. This year it’s March 14.

Turning clocks ahead by an hour at 2 on Sunday morning steals an hour of sleep from everyone.

The clock might say you’re dragging your butt out of bed at 6:30 a.m. Monday to get ready for work, but your brain is telling you it’s only 5:30 a.m., and you should really go back to sleep.

So on that first Monday of Daylight Savings Time, and maybe even Tuesday and Wednesday, a workforce that is already sleep deprived from long hours, family duties and all that tempting, tempting late-night TV programming is now missing another hour of sleep.

It can be a real problem, said Jim Kirk. As captain of the U.S.S Enterprise – um, I mean as branch manager of the Accountemps office in Reading. (Got confused there, I’m a little sleepy myself.)

“It’s like jet lag,” he said. “Anytime you have to make adjustments to your sleep schedule, it’s difficult.”

People who show up for work sleepy, or begin to drag by days’ end because of a lack of zzz’s, can be problematic in the office.

Sleepy people are more prone to make mistakes and show less judgment, he said.

“You could be costing your company money,” Kirk said.

Kirk said as employees, people should endeavor to get enough sleep to get through the work day.

“You just really need that concentration,” he said.

Of course, that’s not always possible. Some people have kids that keep them up at night. Others might be working two jobs or have volunteer work. Insomnia can plague just about anyone from time to time.

And sometimes, well, Jimmy Fallon is really kicking it with his opening monologue and then there’s a really good lineup of comics on @midnight on Comedy Central and, well – you have no one to blame but yourself.

For Kirk’s employees, he usually offers tips such as having a big glass of water first thing in the morning. He said it’s refreshing and even better than coffee, which you can switch to later, if you like.

In fact, many nutritionists are now saying a cold glass of water in the morning is the best way to get yourself awake and alert.

People are, after all, 60 percent water. You’re really just topping off the tank.

Kirk said a little midday nap might help. Taking a 20-minute break to catch some sleep might be a worthwhile investment if it saves you hours of what would be lower productivity.

Personally, just shutting my eyes for five minutes in my car before heading back into the office from lunch puts the skip back in my step.

Seriously, napping is my favorite.

Kirk also said that if you know you’re going to be dragging in the morning until properly caffeinated, or dragging by the midday, you should schedule work accordingly.

Plan any complicated tasks that require your full attention for when you’re awake enough to deal with them.

For employers, don’t be afraid to say something if a staffer seems sleepy all of the time, Kirk said.

It doesn’t have to be a major conversation and you don’t have to pry into an employee’s business. Just ask if there is anything wrong, because he or she seems really tired.

The person might have a problem that could be easily resolved with a little support from the office, such as a small scheduling change.

Either way, it’s a real issue that should be addressed, he said. Office alertness is key to productivity and performance.

And the work day seems so much brighter if your eyes are actually open.

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Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook. Circle Stacy Wescoe on .

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