79% of chefs admit they suffer from sleep deprivation over the Christmas period

The Staff Canteen

Are you getting enough sleep?

Probably not. 71% of chefs get less than six hours a night during the festive period, according to the results of a poll across our social media channels. 

As the science of sleep becomes more advanced, we are increasingly aware of the health detriments caused by a lack of sleep - which is anything less than seven hours, according to the current scientific consensus. But is the industry doing enough to adapt?

To better understand if chefs and hospitality workers were getting enough sleep across the busy and stressful festive season, The Staff Canteen asked it's professional audience if they suffer from sleep deprivation at Christmas time. 

Shockingly, 79% of respondents said they do suffer from sleep deprivation caused by stress created by this intense time of the year, with only 21% voting that they do not suffer from a lack of sleep at Christmas.

To help you manage your stress levels and get some proper shut eye, we've compiled a list of tips and advice from our audience as well as mental health professionals so that you can properly protect your body during this busy period of the year. 

Physical effects of lack of sleep

Neuroscientist and author of Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker, has spent his entire career studying the science of sleep, and believes that Western society is suffering from“catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic”, with grave consequences for our health.

Sleep deprivation is now known to be correlated with a drastic rise in the risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s and weight gain.

Mental effects of lack of sleep 

And that's not all: beyond the physical effects, our mental health is intricately linked to how much sleep we get.

By depriving ourselves of deep sleep, our ability to process emotions is impaired. Low mood - anger, irritability, but also suicidal thoughts and even addiction relapse have strong connections to lack of sleep, and while psychiatric conditions negatively affect our ability to sleep, the reverse has been found to be true, too. 

That's not forgetting the potential risks linked to fatigue - or chronic sleep deprivation - which can lead to accidents, an obvious problem in professional kitchens.

Health benefits of sleep

On the flipside, aside from its preventative properties, sleep encourages creativity, capacity for learning and memory processing and has even been shown to be condusive to higher IQs in younger people. 

Few employers need convincing that improved motivation, productivity, and creativity in their staff sound great, but is that just a pipedream? are chefs getting enough kip?

How to manage stress and relax

The Burnt Chef Project recently posted their advice for managing stress and preventing burn-outs during the festive season. 

In a quest to better manage stress and get more sleep, we asked our audience and searched the web for the best advice we could find to help you properly manage your mental health at Christmas. 

One our users explained how walking her dog helped her relive and deal with the stress of the christmas period. 


Another user explained how going to the gym helped them stay relaxed and get a good night sleep.


One instagram used explained how watching her favourite TV program helped them relax, particularly before going to bed.

Another chef joked about how a drink or two helped relax them, however we would like point out we do not condone drinking to relieve stress, and if you drinking do so responsibly particularly over the busy festive period. 

Chefs see a lack of rest as one of the biggest concerns 

We asked you, chefs, how much you sleep - particularly during the festive season. Most of you - more than 7 out of 10 - said that on average, you sleep less than six hours a night.

Depending on which sector you work in, it is possible to have a good routine, and some of you responded saying you make sleep a priority: 



You were right to remind us that a lack of sleep isn't just chefs' problem, and that front of house staff are affected too: 


While some said it is important not to fall into the trap of 'bragging' about poor working hours, some of you kicked back: 


Do we have a long way to go BEFORE CHEFS CAN GET THE SLEEP thEY NEED? 

In 2019, we published a study which found that many hospitality workers still work 9-12 hour shifts, with only one, if any breaks. Given this, unless chefs put sleep before family life, socialising, entertainement - all of which are valid ways of spending free time - it is unlikely that they will get the recommended 8 hours a night.

Increasingly, improving work-life balance and reducing working hours is a priority for chefs and their employers, begging the question: will chefs soon get as much shut-eye as the average 9 to 5 office worker?

One can hope.


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th December 2022

79% of chefs admit they suffer from sleep deprivation over the Christmas period