We all know getting good sleep is beneficial for both body and mind. But despite this, a huge number of us still don’t make it a priority – even using little-to-no-sleep as a badge of honor in today’s nonstop society.
Here’s why down time is as important to your career as time spent in the office.
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
According to the sleep foundation, working age adults (18+) need around 7-9 hours of sleep a night to be properly rested, but many of us don’t achieve this. In fact, in the US around 50 – 70 million adults have a sleep disorder which stops them achieving proper rest. Lifestyle choices, long working hours and lack of exercise can all contribute to poor sleeping patterns, which can have disastrous effects on your working life.
1. Sleep Deprivation Causes Accidents
Whether you’re operating heavy machinery or simply need to be on the ball at your desk – not getting enough sleep is proven to cause repeated mistakes at work. Obviously this is more dangerous for those of us who work in roles where lives could be put in jeopardy due to a lack of good sleep.
To put it into perspective, lack of sleep was at least partly to blame for disasters such as Chernobyl, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident and the Exxol oil spill. Investigators in each of these cases concluded that extreme sleep deprivation played a significant part in the eventual disasters, with the decision making of those in charge being severely impaired.
2. Lack of Sleep Makes You Less Intelligent
Consistently missing out on sleep stops your brain from doing important jobs like consolidating memories. These memories can be essential skills you’ve learnt for your job, and therefore, people who don’t get enough rest can end up actually being less intelligent than those who do.
3. You're More Susceptible to Illness
If you’re not sleeping right, you are more open to a whole host of illnesses – both physical and mental. Not only are you much more likely to suffer with depression and anxiety, you have a higher chance of getting heart disease, developing cancer, or just catching colds and flu. This means more days off and reduced productivity – much to the detriment of your career.
4. Your Judgement Becomes Impaired
When you sleep less, it’s proven that you make rash decisions – and often not particularly logical ones. Whatever your industry, an employer doesn't want someone in charge of their business who's not thinking straight.
Here are some novel ideas from workplaces around the world to ensure your career is not damaged by lack of sleep;
5. Assess What Kind of Sleeper You Are
According to research at the Russian Academy of Science, there are 4 different kinds of sleepers. Some of us are genuinely night owls – who prefer rising late and working late – whilst others prefer waking up at the crack of dawn and having an early night. Once companies ‘woke up’ to this, many started offering flextime; where employees could choose what hours they worked to help make the most of their natural disposition. If you don’t have flextime at your company, it might be worth pitching it to you boss or HR department as a means of getting the most out of your workers – as well as few extra hours in bed!
6. Take Power Naps at Work to Improve Performance
Well known as some of the most hardworking and productive people on the planet, the Japanese have a novel approach to sleep and work. At Hugo Inc, an internet consulting firm in Osaka, workers are allowed to take a 30 minute siesta any time during the afternoon (1-4PM), which allows employees to refresh themselves and helps to prevent mistakes.
7. Invest in a Desk Bed
Call them crazy, but designers have come up with a way to turn your ordinary working desk into a compact bed – so you can catch some Zs at any possible moment. One Greek designer, Athanasia Leivaditou, recently won the A’Design Award for her convertible desk bed – though she says she won’t be marketing it any time soon. However, if this is something that catches your attention, there are other options available.
Failing these more outlandish schemes, why not give the tried and tested wind down method a go? A relaxing bath with lavender oil can have a surprisingly big impact. But the most important thing to remember to get a good night's sleep is absolutely no screen time for at least 1 hour before you go to bed, this means no television, laptop, tablet or phone. Blissful sleep here we come!