Hospitality workers still get just 5-6 hours of sleep a night over Christmas

The Staff Canteen

Hospitality is known for its long, unsociable hours but how much sleep are people working in the industry actually getting and what can be done about it?

In January 2018, the world’s biggest bed brand, Sealy, released a study discussing the impacts of sleep-deprivation in the workplace. 77% of people were found to be failing to get the necessary shut-eye needed to recuperate.

This lack of sleep causes problems in the workplace: ‘65% regularly lose their temper or have been irritable to a colleague, 30% claim they suffer a lack of productivity, while 19% of employees say they’re often late into work or have time off as a result’.

These are obviously major issues and affect the working world as a whole, but what industry is most likely to wake up exhausted each morning? Shock horror, its hospitality with 86% of staff surveyed waking up exhausted each morning.

In an industry which places its workers near potentially dangerous equipment, there are a number of real concerns surrounding this issue. Accidents are the main one, 11% of hospitality staff had a recent accident at work as a result of feeling tired.

After conducting a poll on Facebook, 119 people said that they expect to only get a maximum of 6 hours sleep a night. This is substantially lower than the recommended 7 – 9 hours recommended by experts especially as the 6 hour figure is at the top end of the range meaning people are likely to get even less than that!

Christmas is a busy time for the industry so while it may not be possible to increase the hours of sleep a great deal, it may be possible to improve the quality of sleep that people are having.

Fortunately there are some ways to get better quality sleep. One of the best known is to create a bed time routine. Have a bath, read a book or listen to some music, as long as it is roughly the same each night it will help you wind down and send a signal to your brain that it is time to sleep. Stop looking at screens straight before bed, the light emitted has been shown in some instances to keep you up, disrupting your circadian rhythm.

In 2017 a study, carried out by drinks distributor Matthew Clark, showed that in the coming festive period chefs, waiters, bar and hotel staff will be working huge amounts of overtime.

The results showed that 64% of those surveyed said they regularly miss out on sleep, especially so over the festive period and nearly 10% are getting by on just three to four hours sleep. These figures indicate the pressures placed on hospitality workers at this time of year. The research also reveals that those in the industry will be working an extra 28 hours over the festive period. In this time you could pour 840 pints of Guinness or cook 168 steaks!

Michael Bremner, chef and owner of 64 Degrees in Brighton, suggested that while this period might come with a bit less sleep than usual, for a lot of chefs, it’s a choice they make out of dedication to their careers.

He said: “It’s a busy time of year. We have seven chefs here, which is less than a lot of kitchens. I don’t break people, people work as hard as they like really. All the team here are very dedicated. I think people affected by that sort of thing will be people that work in hotels. When I worked in a hotel I used to do a breakfast double!”

What the experts say

The NHS says that one night without enough sleep will make you irritable, and you’ll lack focus, but it’s not bad for your health. A number of sleep deprived nights though, and they say that your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. Your risk of injury and accidents at home, work and on the road also increases.

However, it’s not just their sleep and health that hospitality workers are sacrificing over the Christmas period. The study found that the following top ten activities that are regularly missed out on are: dating, watching films or TV shows, exercising, learn a new skill (e.g. language, sport), pampering themselves, cooking new recipes, reading books, running essential errands and holidays.

Geoff Brown of Matthew Clark, said: “Christmas is a very busy time of the year for the hospitality industry and striking a work life balance is a huge challenge.”

A petition to keep shops closed on Boxing Day gained thousands of votes and a lot of media attention, suggesting that the public are sympathetic to those working in the service industry over the festive period. 

The UK drinks 55 million cups of coffee every day. Maybe a lot of those cups are being drunk by overworked and sleep deprived chefs!

By Sam Clark and Cameron Huck

Do you feel sleep deprived over Christmas? Let us know by commenting below or head over to our Facebook page or Twitter to keep the conversation going.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st December 2018

Hospitality workers still get just 5-6 hours of sleep a night over Christmas