'Tis the season to be sleep deprived: more than 7 out of 10 chefs don't get enough sleep at Christmas time

The  Staff Canteen

Are you getting enough sleep?

Probably not. 71% of chefs 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?

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?

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? 

We recently 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.

What do you think chefs? Are you getting enough sleep? If not, is it because of your working hours, or something else? Share your thoughts in the comments below!




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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th December 2019

'Tis the season to be sleep deprived: more than 7 out of 10 chefs don't get enough sleep at Christmas time