I often wonder when did we begin placing such an emphasis on being number one. Being first in our class, coming in first
place in the race, and as we age and enter the workforce being the supervisor, manager, director, VP and the list can go on. This tenacious desire for success and being “the best or first” at something and at times anything, is not necessarily a bad thing. Let’s be honest, it is from that desire that greatness is birthed. The question is, at what cost? When is the desire to be number one detrimental to other areas of my life?
I get it. Organizational leaders are constantly navigating the ever changing financial and economic climate of their organizations, trying to stay ahead of the curve with industry trends, all while multitasking a dozen other tasks and responsibilities. This is what it means to be a leader, right? The stress of it all affects the body in a multitude of ways, however sometimes the effects are not as transparent as others.
I conducted a simple survey of individuals in “high powered” or c Suite executive positions. I asked them about quality of life and the one thing they wish they could change. The one thing that would aid in their personal well-being. The majority of participants stated that they lacked quality sleep. This probably seems insignificant to many. I’m sure you may have even said to yourself a time or two that you lacked adequate sleep or had a restless night here or there. Who hasn’t? What’s the big deal? But in this case, I’m talking sleep deprivation. The American Sleep Association describes sleep deprivation as the cumulative effect of a person not having sufficient sleep. Insufficient sleep adversely affects the body, brain, mood and cognitive function
A CNN article reported that many company leaders stated they don’t get enough sleep. A survey of 35,000 leaders by Potential Project in conjunction with the Harvard Business Review found only 28% say they sleep 7 hours or more a night. Another study found if you sleep 6 hours a night for 10 days, you will be as impaired in performance by day 11 as someone who pulled an all-nighter. This data is staggering and a bit concerning.
There is a clear understanding that sleep contributes to better cognitive function, memory recall and inhibitory control to name a few, but what happens when we don’t get enough sleep? As leaders, the responsibility of the organization’s health can rest on your shoulders but without adequate sleep, you may be turning your organization’s culture into that of a hostile and dreadful workspace. You may not be aware that your shorter than usual temper or harsh tone is translating into a toxic work environment. This change in mood is a common effect of sleep deprivation.
In addition to changes in mood, sleep deprivation also affects your mental performance and capabilities. Have you ever been in the middle of a sentence and forget the topic of the conversation, or unable to find the right word to convey a thought? Imagine if this occurred during a presentation with major financial implications or during a board meeting? That thought alone is enough to drive some people to high levels of anxiety and panic. Well, you’re not alone. A MIT article reported that sleep deprivation will negatively impact your cognitive performance. Getting less than the recommended amount of sleep can cause apparent IQ loss of five to eight points the next day. This equates to lost productivity which equates to economic losses. Another study found that lack of sleep among the U.S. workforce cost approximately $411 billion and losing 1.2 million working days per year.
The CDC has called this a threat to the nation’s health, stating that a third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. This is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions—such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. Some of the most alarming data comes from RAND Europe and their study, titled ‘Why sleep matters – the economic costs of insufficient sleep’. Researchers found that a person who sleeps on average less than six hours a night has a 13 percent higher mortality risk than someone sleeping between seven and nine hours.
So what does this all mean? Sleep well to Lead well.
3 Tips To Increase your Slumber:
Write it Down: It’s natural for your mind to wonder in the middle of the night. You’re responsible for a lot of moving pieces. Sometimes those moving pieces wake you from your sleep. Keep a notebook by your bed that you can quickly jot thoughts down so that you don’t obsess in the moment. Tend to those items in the morning.
Practice Mindfulness: While some wake up repeatedly in the middle of the night, others find it difficult to fall asleep. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to learn to center yourself and “quiet your brain.”
Lastly, make sure that your environment is conducive to restful sleep. It may seem insignificant, but you shouldn’t take for granted the importance of your bedroom sleep environment. It is one important factor can that help you quickly begin settling yourself for restful sleep.
Start by removing or adjusting distractions that may hinder your sleep (cellphone, television, uncomfortable room temperature, etc). Light is an important environmental factor to consider with aiding your sleep. Melatonin is your sleep hormone. When your light is on or bright, your melatonin is low so keeping your room dark is best to produce melatonin and aid in your sleep.
As always, we at Taylor White Coaching and Consulting are here to help and support you on this journey. Let’s discuss how we can help.