Some of the most popular anecdotes about successful entrepreneurs and business leaders involve their near-impossible schedules featuring long hours and plenty of time spent burning the midnight oil. Unfortunately, this implies the key to success is pushing yourself to the limit with as little downtime as possible. A night where you only get two hours of sleep becomes a badge of honor. The problem is that sleep deprivation is the worst thing you can do to yourself if you want to be productive.
How Sleep Deprivation Affects Productivity
Even if you feel like you can perform well on hardly any sleep, you probably can’t. Sleep-deprived workers cost companies about 80,000 working days every year, which is worth over $20 billion to the economy. Lack of sleep is one major contributor towards presenteeism, which is when an employee is at work but failing to perform up to their usual standard.
The most obvious way sleep deprivation affects productivity is by reducing how quickly your mind and body can function. You end up taking longer to perform tasks, especially those that require quite a bit of thought. Sleep deprivation’s impact on your body is similar to that of alcohol, which is why drowsy driving is considered just as dangerous as drunk driving. You wouldn’t come to work drunk, unless you’re either in a band or have the most relaxed boss ever. It’s just as bad to come in sleep deprived.
Your communication skills also suffer when you haven’t gotten enough sleep. You may have trouble listening to people or expressing yourself clearly. Since lack of sleep can make you irritable and more susceptible to stress, you’re more likely to get in arguments with other people over non-issues. As you get into the work day, you could lose motivation and feel burnt out sooner than normal.
Improving Your Sleeping Habits
Developing better sleep habits starts with your schedule. Even if you have a flexible schedule and sometimes work odd hours, you should set a cut-off time when work ends for the day. Try to avoid working right up until you go to sleep, as you want to give your body time to relax. It’s better to have at least a couple hours between when you stop working and when you go to bed.
Make sure your bedroom is as sleep-focused as possible. If you work from home, don’t bring any work items into your bedroom. It’s also a good idea to either shut down your electronic devices or put them away where you can’t see them when you’re in bed, because if you play around with a few apps before trying to sleep, it can keep you awake.
Reading is one of the best activities for getting yourself ready to go to sleep, but you can choose anything relaxing. Performing deep breathing exercises or listening to slower music are also good choices.
Sleep deprivation is bad for your productivity and your overall health. Set up the right sleeping habits for yourself to ensure that you’re getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night.