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19 March 2021

Why making sleep a priority could advance your career

Sleep is vital for both our body and our minds to function. Getting quality sleep improves productivity, helps regulate emotions, decreases risk of heart disease and improves immune function, just to name a few benefits.

Sleep deprivation not only has a negative impact on your physical health, but it also affects your cognitive performance (aka how well your brain is working). Studies have found that a lack of sleep can affect communication, decision making, creativity, attention, and long-term memory.

Shleep (a team of sleep experts and business brains bringing the science of sleep to businesses through carefully designed sleep programs) found that 4 out of 10 (43%) business leaders say they do not get enough sleep at least four nights a week. Such sleep deficiencies can undermine important forms of leadership behaviour and eventually hurt financial performance.

Here are just a handful of ways that getting enough rest can improve your on-the-job performance and help you wow your boss.

You will make better (and quicker) decisions

Sleep is beneficial for a host of cognitive functions that help us solve problems effectively, including insight, pattern recognition, and the ability to come up with innovative and creative ideas. Sufficient sleep improves your ability to make more accurate split-second decisions.

You’re less likely to burn out

Sleeping less than six hours each night is one of the best predictors of on-the-job burnout. Did you know that a sleep deprived employee loses more than two weeks in productivity each year? Experts recommend adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Although this may not be attainable every night, it should be the goal.

Your memory will improve

Getting enough rest is essential for cementing what you’ve learned during the day. If you're sleep-deprived, you have a higher chance of having a poorer working memory, compared with those who are getting an ideal amount of sleep.

You’ll be more creative

Sleep, and in particular REM sleep, has been proven to stimulate intelligent information processing that inspires creativity and promotes problem solving. In other words, when you sleep (and dream), you become better at processing information and coming up with creative ideas.

You will recover from distractions faster

When you're sleep-deprived, it’s harder to refocus on the task at hand after a distraction, compared to when you are feeling well rested. Feeling refreshed will come in especially handy if you have lots of things to juggle at once, or if you have lots of distractions when working from home.

You’ll make fewer mistakes

Did you know that someone who has been awake for around 20 hours performs similarly to someone who is legally drunk (having a blood alcohol level of 0.1%)? Even if you're only moderately sleep-deprived, you'll have much slower response time and a lower accuracy rate on simple tasks.

5 quick changes that will improve your sleep

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • Get regular exercise, but do not exercise close to bedtime (Allow at least three hours between exercise and bed)
  • Finish eating two to three hours before going to bed
  • Create a pre-bedtime relaxation ritual (Like a warm bath with magnesium salt, reading or meditation)
  • Limit screen time before bed – Charge your phone in a different room so you don’t have the temptation to scroll