I’m droggy. I’m congested. And I’m lacking sleep.
I feel like I’ve been in this state forever. But it’s only been a day.
You ever been there? If you’re like most leaders, you have.
Leaders Lack Sleep
In a Gallop study, research shows that, on average, 40% of the US get less than the recommended amount of sleep. That’s a lot of people.
You’re probably one of them. I know I am.
With 40% of the US not getting enough sleep, we can bring that number over to leaders. There’s a good likelihood that 40% of leaders don’t get enough sleep either.
The number is large. This means the problem is large.
When leaders lack sleep, bad decisions are made.
The Importance Of Sleep To A Leader
Lack of sleep carries with it a number of problems. Research bears this out.
Lack of sleep causes accidents: Many of the largest disasters in recent US history can be attributed to getting too little sleep.
The Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986 happened because people were sleep deprived.
When you’re not well-rested, mistakes are made.
Lack of sleep causes poor reaction times: Another study shows us that when we fail to get enough sleep, our reaction times slow down.
The study took 2 groups of cadets. One group was deprived of sleep and the other group was able to get a proper amount of sleep.
What were the results of this study?
Cadets who were sleep-deprived between testing periods saw their accuracy decline by 2.4 percent, and cadets who were well-rested between testing periods improved by 4.3 percent.
Crunch the numbers and you see there is a 6.7% difference between being sleep deprived and being well rested.
When it’s on you to make quick decisions as a leader, you need to be well-rested.
Lack of sleep causes damage to your brain cells: Think those late night work sessions are increasing your productivity? They might. You might be getting more done but you’re doing major damage to your brain.
Recent research has shown that pulling 19 hour days for more than 3 days in a row can damage or kill brain cells in animals. Scientists believe this carries over to humans as well.
Getting the proper amount of sleep helps to clear out the proteins that cause many brain diseases.
Lack of sleep causes physical illness: You’ve done your best to stay awake to get work done. You think it’s helping. And then you’re hit with the flu.
Not according to science.
Your immune system is impacted by the amount of sleep you get. Too little and it becomes ineffective in combating the flu, the common cold, and other maladies.
The other side-effect? Now that you’re sick and sleep deprived, your recovery time will increase as well.
Want to be well? Get more sleep.
How To Get More Sleep
The statistics on what happens to those who lack sleep are scary. Illness, accidents, and poor decision making can really take you down a notch or two when you’re making leadership decisions.
It’s vital you get the proper amount of sleep. What is that amount?
To be at your best, most adults require 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep every night. That’s a lot of downtime but it’s better than the alternative.
Now, the question is, how do you get more sleep?
Try these tactics for more sleep:
Create a regular bedtime: You have a routine for the rest of your day, why not your sleep schedule as well? When you make sleep a priority, you begin to get more.
Schedule in your nightly rest and catch more ZZZZs.
Turn off your electronics: We’re attracted to our electronic toys. Our iPads ding to let us know there’s a new email. Our phones beep to let us know we have a new text message. Our computers give off a glow to let us know it still has power.
All of these things impact our sleep and keep us awake at night. Rather than keeping your electronics in your bedroom, keep them out.
The distracting beeps and dings and rings will be in another room. The ambient light given off by these electronic devices will also not be seen.
Get your electronics out of the room and get a better night’s rest.
Get out and exercise (But not within 4 hours before bed): Our bodies are rigged for motion. If we don’t get the proper amount of exercise, it becomes harder to get to sleep.
Work that body of yours out and be ready to sleep that workout away.
Cut out the caffeine: We know caffeine is a stimulant. We know it gives us a pep of energy and knocks away the drowsiness.
So, why then, do we continue to consume coffee and other drinks that contain caffeine when we’re trying to sleep?
It doesn’t make sense but we do it all the time.
Laying off of the caffeine will give you the rest you’re looking for.
Create an atmosphere for sleep: The rooms we call our bedrooms often aren’t conducive for sleep.
Our curtains are thin and let light in. We have bring nightlights (or our phones) by our bedsides. The room is noisy and cluttered.
All of these inhibit sleep and cause you to get poor sleep.
Clean up the room and create an environment that invites sleep.