Could sliding between the sheets at 10 p.m. instead of midnight make a difference in your career? It doesn’t take a soothsayer to see the true power of a good night’s rest.
Sleep — or the lack thereof — plays a role in every aspect of our lives, from pure stamina to the odds of getting sick to the ability to remember what to say during an important client meeting. Without enough rest, we become irritable. A dose of sugar or caffeine might temporarily reverse a foggy mind, but it’s a losing battle.
Of course, sleep deprivation isn’t just a problem at the office. It has severe personal repercussions: A lack of sleep has been linked to depression and Alzheimer’s disease. And considering that about a third of us routinely run around without enough sleep, this troublesome pattern has a tremendous effect on society.
Just one night of insomnia can mess up our systems and potentially lead to significant life changes. Case in point: Researchers reported that heart attacks and fatal car accident incidents rise considerably during daylight saving time.
While our survival depends on our ability to get an adequate amount of sleep, sneaking in a few extra winks also has tangible professional benefits.
The Subjective Nature of Sleep
To be sure, the “right” amount of sleep is highly subjective. We each have a sleep “sweet spot,” and some of us need more shut-eye than others. But everyone requires at least some sleep.
Thomas Edison went on the record calling sleep a waste of time. While his view on sleep was clear, Edison still managed to carve out time in his busy schedule to get some rest. Not only did Edison nap like crazy to revive his brain, but he also set up cots throughout his workshop so he could snooze at his leisure.
Quite the opposite, Albert Einstein loved a good nine hours of rest every night. He also napped when appropriate, proving that even the most brilliant minds among us still need time to recharge their batteries. Everyone’s sleep profile is unique; whether you’re an Edison or an Einstein, your neural pathways require a break.
Of course, it’s notoriously difficult to find time for that rest in a society that’s flush with electronics, gadgetry, and screens. We’re getting about 90 minutes less of sleep than our ancestors a century ago. The only way to reverse that trend? Put ourselves to bed.
Boosting Your Career With Shut-Eye
In addition to helping us lead better lives, sleep can be a tremendous boon to our careers. While sleeping on the job is a bit extreme, getting enough rest behind the scenes can make you far more effective in the workplace.
- Your decision-making and focus will be off the charts.
Have you ever been sleep-deprived and made some ridiculous calls? You aren’t alone. Research by Nature shows that our neurons don’t fire as rapidly when we haven’t gotten enough sleep. Not only does it cause us to take more time to process information, but it can also cause us to feel almost drunk. Get enough hours of REM sleep, though, and you’ll be prepared to tackle even the toughest problems.
- You’ll take fewer sick days.
A lack of sleep can lower your body’s immunity, making you ripe for flu and cold bugs. You’ll end up taking more sick days, which leaves you behind the eight ball when you return. Studies estimate that lost productivity related to sleep costs companies between $2,500 and $3,156 per worker per year. Even if you manage to drag yourself into the office on a few hours of rest, you could be doing severe long-term harm while contributing to problems such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. So tuck yourself in at a decent time to avoid becoming a walking germ incubator.
- You will be equipped to deal with stress.
Stress is an entirely natural part of life, but how we deal with it depends on sleep. A particularly noteworthy study found that only one night of poor sleep causes people to make terrible decisions at work, including yelling at colleagues or being argumentative with supervisors. Instead of putting your career on the line, give yourself more time in bed and wait for the weekend to binge on your favorite series.
- Your output will soar.
Ever feel like a bad night’s sleep leaves you with subpar results at work the next day? You’re not imagining it. A lack of rest causes your brain to be less creative, which delays problem-solving and tempers innovation. If you know you need to perform at a high level the next morning, try to bump up your bedtime the night before.
While you might not be guaranteed an “Employee of the Year” placard for getting a few extra hours of sleep, you’ll no doubt improve your performance at the office. Even better, you won’t have to backtrack to fix mistakes you made when your mind was a jumble of sleep-deprived mush. Turn off your smartphone, put on your favorite pajamas, and get excited about going to bed.