For many leaders, a lack of sleep can sometimes be seen as something to take pride in. In the office, people often mention how little sleep they’ve had as if this fact demonstrates their effectiveness, dedication, or ambition. It may seem like the best way to get ahead of the pack is to skip out on sleep and put in the extra hours, but research shows that in the long term, not getting a good night’s sleep can actually hinder your performance.
How does sleep impact your leadership skills?
Lack of sleep can greatly affect your ability to lead. Sleep deprivation can impair health, brain power, motor skills, and people skills, which reduces effectiveness in decision making and problem solving. Sleep is not a luxury. It is a requirement for our brain to both consolidate memories and integrate new information. Therefore, when we don’t get the amount of sleep that our body’s need, it can lead to poor memory, diminished focus and slower responses. This makes it challenging to make important decisions, especially in uncertain and complex work environments.
A lack of sleep also impairs mood regulation, often leading to anxiety and hostility. This can make it difficult to engage in the interpersonal processes necessary for leadership. On top of mood and cognitive impairments, sleep deprivation has also been linked to higher risks of accidents, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.
While it may seem necessary to put in long hours to manage heavy workloads, in the long run the best way to improve your performance and increase your productivity is to sleep more and work less.
How can leaders get better sleep?
While research shows that getting a good night’s sleep will improve your work performance, we’ve all had those nights where we just can’t fall asleep. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to improve our quality of sleep.
If you’re looking for a better night’s rest, check out these tips below:
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule - Wake up at the same time on weekends that you do on weekdays. This will help regulate your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Develop a bedtime routine - Do something relaxing before bed such as reading a book, taking a bath, or even meditating. This will help your brain relax, wind down and prepare for bed.
- Do not use your bed as a workplace - Not only will doing work in bed decrease productivity, but it also confuses our brain when it comes time for bed. When it’s time to hit the sheets, our brain should associate our beds with sleep, not work.
- Invest in the proper sleep necessities - Your pillow affects the way that your neck aligns with your spine, which can either alleviate or put more strain on your back, cause headaches, and impact how restful your sleep is. Be sure to invest in a soft and supportive pillow to max out on your ZZZ’s.
Keep in mind that making time for sleep is a sign of strong leadership, not laziness or weakness. If you’re not able to improve your sleep quality on your own, schedule an appointment with your doctor as there are many treatable sleep disorders out there!