Sleep deprivation is a problem of epic proportions among professionals globally, but it is often neglected by organizations. I know the impact. I struggled with it for years when work dominated my life, undermining my sleeping patterns and, ultimately, my performance.
During a decade-long period when sleep issues impacted every sphere of my life, I identified several potentially effective treatments for busy executives. Ultimately, the remedies did not lie solely in specialized assistance or tools related to sleep, but in adopting a holistic approach.
I changed my lifestyle with the help of a diet and fitness professional. I shifted my mindset and attitude toward work, my relationships with others and myself. These modifications helped eliminate my sleep issues — and transformed my life.
Here’s why the issue is critical for executives: Although other brain areas cope relatively well with insufficient sleep, the prefrontal cortex responsible for executive functioning, including all the higher-order cognitive processes such as planning and decision-making, is greatly affected, report neuroscientists.
The research drives it home. Insufficient sleep — 19 percent below recommended levels, according to one study — undercuts executives’ leadership behaviors and hurts their organizations’ financial performance. It adversely affects concentration, patience, enthusiasm and judgment. Adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best.
A McKinsey study of 196 business leaders found two-thirds were dissatisfied with the amount of sleep they get and 55 percent were unhappy with its quality. Over 80 percent said they received limited education from their organizations about the significance of sleep. Nearly half said they were expected to be available by email or phone for unreasonably long periods.
Here are some actions that organizations can take to help leaders perform at their peak:
But it’s also about taking care of yourself. Here are some steps you can take to get more and higher-quality sleep:
Sleep matters, especially for executives whose decisions help determine an organization’s effectiveness.
Take a closer look at your schedule and habits to make sure you are getting the best sleep possible, and next time you find yourself needing a nap, take that snooze knowing you are helping yourself and your work performance.
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Originally published at www.mckinsey.com