Listen: Sean Hall in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty.
Inadequate sleep, meals missed and a lack of exercise are sapping Australians of the energy needed for everyday activity and it’s impacting on productivity and the national economy, according to a research study by the University of Sydney Business School and human performance firm, Energx.
Women impacted more
The study ‘Why are we so Tired?’ surveyed 1,200 people and found women are the hardest hit by the energy drain. It found that on average, Australian women feel that they have the energy for themselves and important activities on just four out of every ten. Men feel that they have sufficient energy on just five of every ten days.
Dr Stefan Volk, a senior lecturer from the University of Sydney Business School, described the survey results as “depressing”.
“This report shows that Australia is experiencing a human energy crisis. One of the symptoms of this is an epidemic of sleep deprivation,” said Dr Volk.
Most rarely wake refreshed
“Sleep allows our brain to regenerate and our body to revitalize. Unfortunately, in the corporate world there is still a widespread perception that sleep is a waste of time and that people who sleep less are more productive.”
“Respondents in our survey reported having at least 7 hours of sleep on only 6 out of 10 days and of waking feeling refreshed on just 4 out of 10 days,” he said.
Sleep deprivation like being drunk
The ‘Why are we so Tired’ study comes in the wake of earlier research, which found sleep deprivation affected people in a similar way to alcohol. The mental performance of people who were awake more than 18 hours was equivalent to that of those with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 – the legal limit for driving in Australia. After 19 hours, performance dropped to levels equivalent to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1.
The Energx/Business School survey also questioned participants about their eating habits and found that the majority skipped meals on more than 3 out of 10 days and ate the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables on only about 5 out of 10 days.
“Food provides glucose and the healthier the food, the longer we have a sufficient blood glucose level after a meal,” said Dr Volk. “Glucose is often referred to as brain fuel and our mental performance suffers when we don’t have enough of it in our blood.”
The survey went on to question participants about other sources of energy not usually measured.
“Many of us are unaware of how much our energy can be affected by things outside the physical,” said Founder and “Chief Energiser” at Energx, Sean Hall. “Our survey took a more holistic approach and included things like passions, strengths, self-talk, relationships, mindset, goal setting and how we manage distractions.”
This holistic approach is called “energy intelligence” and it allows people to understand their current energy levels and then practically teach the skills required to increase the quantity and quality of energy needed to lead an energised, meaningful life.
Important for business
“Ultimately it is our energy intelligence that determines our ability to be and feel successful,” Mr Hall said. “An exciting application of this thinking is in the business context. Energx and the Business School share the belief that the most valuable asset in any organisation is the collective energy of its people.”
The question isn’t are your people depleted, the real question is by how much and what impact is this having on your business today,” he concluded.
To listen to the Open House podcast of this story, click the red play button at the top of the page, or you can subscribe to Open House podcasts in iTunes and they will appear in your feed.