7 Things You Need To Know About Sleep And How It Can Affect Your Career

Seven things you need to know about sleep and how it can affect your job.

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By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

When clients come to me experiencing burnout, the first thing I ask is how many hours of sleep they’re getting each night. Many of them look at me like I’m crazy, but sleep deprivation is a major contributing factor to burnout and can have serious consequences. It affects not only your health and well-being, but it can have major consequences for your career.

Here are seven things you need to know about sleep and how it can affect your job.

  1. You need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Period. Science has proven in study after study that this is the optimal amount of sleep for the average adult. However, in the U.S.,40% of adults don’t get enough sleep. If you’re one of those 40%, you need to reassess your schedule and figure out how to squeeze in some more shut-eye until you’re getting at least seven hours per night.
  2. A small segment of the population can function on less than seven hours of nightly sleep, but you’re probably not one of them. Due to a genetic mutation, there are people who can function optimally on less than seven hours per night, but that segment of the population totals only about 1%. So if you’re getting less than seven per night, and you’re not one of the lucky 1%, you’ll be experiencing the serious effects of sleep deprivation.
  3. Your job performance will suffer if you’re not getting enough sleep. If you get less than seven hours, you’ll experience the effects of sleep deprivation within just days.And it will negatively affect not only your health—including heightened risk of obesity, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure—it will alsoimpair your cognitive abilities, causing mental distress, making it difficult to focus, and decreasing productivity. If you’re lacking sleep, the effects will show up in your work sooner or later.
  4. Getting enough sleep pays. Literally. When you’re getting the right amount sleep nightly, you’re performing to your full potential, so you’re more productive and efficient, which eventually leads to higher pay. One study actually found that of those surveyed who were getting too little sleep, adding one hour of sleep per night resulted in a 16% salary increase over time.
  5. The time of day you work can greatly affect your sleep cycle. Night workers suffer from sleep problems more frequently than nine-to-fivers. Sleeping during daylight hours and working at nighttime interferes with the body’s circadian regulation of sleep, which can have many negative effects.If you pick a field that requires night work, you’re more susceptible to the negative effects of sleep deprivation, so you’ll have to be even more careful about getting enough sleep.
  6. The career you pick affects how much sleep you get. Shift workers like firefighters, police officers, nurses, and paramedics tend to sleep less than those in other occupations. On the flip side, those with outdoor jobs, like construction workers, landscapers, and loggers, tend to get more rest, likely because daylight limits them from working late nights and/or overtime.
  7. If you’re a woman, getting enough sleep is especially important. The negative effects of sleep deprivation—like heart disease, diabetes, and stress—are more pronounced in women than in men. Hormones are the likely cause for this difference between the genders, so women in particular need to make sure they’re reaching that seven hour threshold each night.Moreover, research indicates that women need 20 more minutes of sleep each night than their male counterparts.

When life gets busy and there seem to be too few hours in each day, it’s tempting to try to find that extra time by cutting into sleep time, but that’s a counterproductive solution that will only hurt you in the long run. Getting enough sleep is critical if you want to want to bring your “A game” to work every day. Invest those seven to nine hours of sleep into yourself each night, and you’ll be best positioned to perform your best day-to-day with a fully rested, recharged brain.

The choice to make this space for yourself is one of self-love. Remember — you’re worth it.

Sweet dreams!

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