The Corporate Wellness Blog

Sleep and How it Impacts Your Success

October 19 2016

There are lots of different keys to success: drive, ambition, knowledge, and so forth. But sometimes our biological systems have just as much of an effect on our success as our intellect and one of the most important elements is sleep.

Getting enough quality sleep is more important than some might think, as it’s really what powers you through your entire day. If you get enough sleep, it’s extremely likely that you’ll be more successful as you’ll have enough energy to keep you going and meet your goals.

The Risks of Poor Sleep

Not getting enough sleep, and sleeping badly on top of that, can be incredibly risky. Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and the Challenger Space Shuttle disasters were all caused (at least partly) by some of the people involved being fatigued. Not everyone’s lack of sleep will have such disastrous effects, but it can wreak plenty of havoc on your career.

It’s extremely easy for managers and leaders to fall into a pattern of poor sleep. When your job requires you to be «on» all the time, separating working time from resting time can be quite a challenge. Many don’t feel they have the time to sleep, so the quality of their work, and therefore their success, can suffer.

When you’re exhausted, your work relationships, your decision-making skills and how you process information goes down the tubes. Good leaders need all of these skills to be in top shape in order to succeed in the workplace. And when you’re not well rested, these skills aren’t at their best and things can start to go wrong.

Why Does Lack of Sleep Effect Performance?

It all comes down to how the brain functions.

When you sleep, your brain is essentially cleaning itself by getting rid of metabolic waste through the glymphatic system. A 2013 study shows that the brain creates an actual physical space for this to occur, and when it hasn’t had the opportunity to flush the cerebrospinal fluid, it can build up. This build up prevents the brain from functioning properly.

In order for the brain to do its work, it needs a rest period of about six to eight hours a day; a.k.a sleep.

What’s «Better» Sleep?

It’s not all just about quantity, however, but also about quality. Good, quality sleep is what actually determines how well rested you are.

Even if you sleep for a full eight hours, if your sleep was constantly interrupted, the brain doesn’t regenerate as it should. Constant interruption during sleep is actually the most common form of insomnia, known as “sleep continuity disruption”. When this happens to you over the long term, it can lead to all sorts of problems; from difficulty concentrating to more severe conditions like depression.

Sleep isn’t a Luxury, it’s a Necessity

As we mentioned before, it’s very easy for business leaders to put sleep off in favor of work. In a workplace where sleep is seen as a luxury or something that could possibly be put off till tomorrow, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of not getting enough of it. If this sounds like something you’ve done, use the benefits of a good, full night’s sleep to motivate you to make your sleep a priority:

1. Impact on Decision Making

Decision making is an everyday activity that can have serious consequences, both good and bad. When you haven’t gotten enough sleep, it can be incredibly difficult to make even the simplest choices. (Remember what we were saying about the brain flushing out all the waste?)

Make better decisions more consistently by sleeping enough so the brain can do its job.

2. Build Relationships

No one likes a grumpy, exhausted manager (including the manager). Improve your relationship with your staff, other departments and other businesses by first improving your relationship with sleep.

Someone who’s well rested has a higher capacity for empathy, more patience, and is able to read others better, which are all qualities of a good leader and more successful worker.

3. Improve Your Focus

When you don’t get enough sleep, your mind can feel like it’s in a fog and it can be easy to be distracted. When coffee doesn’t cut it to clear your mind, look to your pillow instead.

When you get enough quality sleep, your mind is well rested and more able to think clearly. If you’re thinking clearly, you’re able to focus more and longer on the task at hand, which can in turn make you a more successful businessperson.

Take off the Badge of Honor and Rest

If you want to be successful in your career, you can’t just be disciplined in the work place, but also in your rest as well. While it might seem like something unimportant, getting enough, quality sleep is really the ultimate key to success. The days are coming to an end when lack of sleep and overwork are seen as badges of honor. Instead, some of the top leaders in the world are pushing us to realize that lack of rest is an irresponsible leadership behavior.

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