Sleep just might be the productivity superpower. No matter what kind of work you do, getting enough sleep will improve your performance. Short-changing yourself on sleep will savage your work, your team, and your health.
The Center for Creative Leadership surveyed 384 leaders about their sleep habits. They discovered they average 6.63 hours of sleep a night. Forty-two percent get six or fewer hours most nights. If that’s you, it’s time to change.
The National Sleep Foundation says adults aged 29 to 64 need 7 to 9 hours sleep a night. If you’re not getting enough sleep and especially if you’re getting less than six hours, pay attention. When you don’t get enough sleep your work, your team’s performance, and your health all suffer.
When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep, You’re Less Effective at Work
We’re all knowledge workers today. We do our best work when we can concentrate on the task at hand and avoid distractions. That’s much harder when you don’t get enough sleep. There’s more “cognitive interference.” Unwanted thoughts into your head and distract you. There’s more. According to Christopher Barnes, writing in the Harvard Business Review,
“Insufficient sleep and fatigue lead to poor judgement, lack of self-control, and impaired creativity.”
That’s not exactly a recipe for success. It’s worse if you’re responsible for the performance of a group.
When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep, Your Team Is Less Effective
When it rains on the boss, everybody gets wet. So, when you don’t get enough sleep, your team suffers.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more irritable and antagonistic. That’s not good for relationships with your team. In the worst case, you’re more likely to be abusive. That’s certainly not good.
You set the example for your team. If you come in early and stay late, that’s what your team members will think you want. If you send them emails at all hours, that’s what they’ll think you want.
What you say matters, too. If you tell “war stories” about working long hours, don’t be surprised if your team members think that’s what you want. If you brag about not getting much sleep, team members will think that’s what you expect. It’s human nature. And if they adopt your bad sleep habits, they’re likely to pay the price at work and in the rest of their life, just like you.
When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep, Your Health Suffers
I’m sure you’ve heard someone justify not getting enough sleep with the line: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” The Division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School counters with this:
“What many people do not realize is that a lack of sleep—especially on a regular basis—is associated with long-term health consequences, including chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and that these conditions may lead to a shortened life expectancy.”
Here’s the scary part. You may not know how lack of sleep affects you. If you consistently get too little sleep, you may not remember what it feels like to be fully rested.
You may think you need little sleep. There are people like that. Psychologists call them “short sleepers.” Short sleepers only need three or four hours sleep a night. You may think that’s you, but you’re probably wrong. Short sleepers only make up two to five percent of the population.
A rested you is a better leader. So, get enough sleep. Your work, your team, and your health will benefit.