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Sleep Deprivation Leads to Cyberloafing and Low Efficiency at Work

G2eQ5Od02KXl532A4x9pJrPIq_dYMSFQ5LRESBCyakFKAQAA6wAAAEpQ_260x196Sitting in front of your computer, looking at a bunch of things to do in schedule, and thinking about checking email and news on social media, you find time has passed but you did nothing in the past two hours. Your work supposed to finish is not yet started, while your browsing history reminds you that you have actually “done a lot”.

Cyberloafing refers to the behavior of spending a lot of time on writing/checking emails and surfing on the Internet but neglecting the real jobs. As the Internet becomes popular, the rate of cyberloafing at work increases. As a matter of fact, everyone may have this experience. Why do people that are supposed to work hard behave like this?

 The occurrence of cyberloafing is largely dependent on self-regulation. People with good self-regulation ability are able to correctly analyze what to do at present and suppress the temptation to entertain so that they can finish their own work first. There are many factors affecting self-regulation and study says sleep might be one of them. When you sleep less than enough, you are likely to cyberloaf at work.

 When you are attempting to suppress the temptation to entertain during working, you need to consume some “resources”, and as you drain up such resources, your ability to resist temptation is going down. At this point, sleep is a good way to refill your energy. Some researchers tried to understand the correlation between sleep and cyberloafing and they found that sleep deprivation leads to lower self-regulation ability and hence, more cyberloafing incidents will happen.

The researchers invited 96 college students to the experiment and they were asked to wear an actigraphy so their sleeping time and sleep interruption can be recorded. They were asked to stay individually in a small room equipping with computer and headphone, watching a 42-minute boring video on a speech of a college faculty applicant. The subjects were asked to give feedbacks and comments on the applicant’s teaching techniques. Since the video was too boring, some of the subjects would more or less watch the video while surfing on the Internet. However, they didn’t know that the computer was installed with monitoring software to record their time spent on surfing the Internet in addition to watching the video, from which the researchers could judge how severe their cyberloafing condition were.

The results suggest that the subjects’ time on cyberloafing was predictable through their sleep time and sleep interruption. Those who slept less or had more sleep interruptions would spend more time on cyberloafing. However, there is an individual difference that even at the same level of sleep deprivation, those who were concentrated would be influenced to a smaller extent. Apparently, sleep deprivation is just correlated with cyberloafing—this study can’t prove their causal relationship and further study is needed.

Nowadays, people are usually in sleep deprivation and used to stay up late to complete their work. However, working long does not mean working more. It happens more often that one works while loafing on Facebook or Amazon. As a result, the worker’s efficiency is low and his employer pays extra salary. If you don’t want to cyberloaf and distract yourself from working anymore, have a good sleep from today on!


Lost sleep and cyberloafing: Evidence from the laboratory and a daylight saving time quasi-experiment.