An international study by the Centre for Creative Leadership discovered that 42% of leaders get six or fewer hours of sleep a night. That’s a high number of performance-driven professionals getting less than their fair share of shut-eye.
So, how important is sleep?
Experts will tell you that it is the backbone of health and that sleeping for at least 7 to 9 hours each night enables you to think and lead better. Many successful professionals across the globe agree. Several famous entrepreneurs have revealed that they get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg says she makes an effort to sleep 7 to 8 a night while Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos has been logging in 8 hours for the past 18 years.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Studies show that to perform optimally, think critically, and have emotional balance, we should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep for the body to perform its restorative functions.
Without enough sleep, your brain and body cannot function properly. This is because during sleep, your body cycles through 5 different sleep stages, in which your body performs essential restorative functions to recharge your systems, rebuild tissue, mend muscles, and boost your immune system. If you don’t get enough sleep or sleep poorly, you are more than likely not cycling through all five sleep stages. This can affect your concentration, memory retention, problem-solving abilities, and physical performance.
Let’s take a look at why getting more sleep should be top of your agenda.
1. Sleep and critical thinking
There’s a direct link between sleeping and critical thinking. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, your attention span shortens, and your reflexes become slower. You don’t respond well to cues in your environment, potentially misreading situations, miscommunication, or missing out on opportunities.
Arianna Huffington said it best: “The science is clear. And what it tells us is that there’s simply no way you can make good decisions and achieve your world-changing ambitions while running on empty.”
2. Sleep and creativity
Science shows that sleep is necessary for producing creative ideas and problem-solving. To fuel your innovative thinking abilities, sleep can activate your memories, create powerful links between brain cells, and transfer information.
The phase of rapid eye movement (REM) in the sleep cycle is where creativity is supported through dreams. This happens as delta waves are slowly released in the brain. These waves produce a state of healing and restoration so your brain cells can restore themselves, enhancing creativity.
The more you dream, the more you’re able to connect with your creativity. So if you’re looking to find a unique, creative idea, sleep is where you’ll tap into an unlimited well of ideas.
3. Sleep and good relationships
When you don’t get enough sleep, your relationships can start to suffer. This is because sleeping well and positive moods go hand in hand. Sleep deprivation can heighten feelings of anger and frustration. You’re more likely to snap at your family or colleagues, straining relationships. It can also lead to you feeling tired and unmotivated.
When you sleep well, you lead well. By leveraging the benefits of good sleep, you can foster a team spirit of positivity, friendliness, and kindness in your team, contributing to overall growth.
4. Sleep and physical performance
To perform at your best, you need good quality sleep. When you sleep, your body and brain undergo a host of restorative functions, including repairing muscles and cells. After a night of uninterrupted sleep, you’ll wake up feeling re-fuelled, energetic, and motivated to tackle the day’s challenges.
5. Sleep and general health
Working late nights, early mornings, and clocking in overtime on the weekend can lead to fatigue and eventually culminate in sleep deprivation. Becoming sleep deprived is a slow process, similar to burnout. The effects are the same: excessive sleepiness, lack of focus, a weak immune system, and mood swings.
Leaders know that to leave a lasting legacy, you need to put your health first. One of the easiest ways to do so is by simply spending more time getting high-quality sleep. Always remember: to be the best, get some rest.