We have almost been convinced that you cannot sleep enough to your success. The sacrifice of sleep, in order to achieve success is a romanticised idea in cultures across the globe, giving birth to idioms and phrases like ‘burning the midnight lamp’ or ‘burning the candles at both ends’. We see it as an important element in the story of anyone’s success and most biopics carry this theme extensively. This idea has penetrated so deeply that often people who sleep more than usual are seen as non-achievers.
If you have given in to these notions and have been compromising on sleep to achieve greater success and recognition at work, there is bad news for your strategy. Not sleeping might be contributing to pulling your efforts down and making futile most of the work you do using the hours that you sacrifice sleep. In fact, sleep deprivation has some very real and tangible workplace cost and not sleeping enough could be hurting your career instead of uplifting it.
Not a luxury, it’s a necessity
To begin with, you need to change your attitude towards sleep and stop seeing it as a luxury that you can opt out of. According to the experts, sleep is an essential function at the end of a productive day to catalogue the day’s experiences into memories and to regulate energy, mood and brain functioning. Deep sleep has a series of four cycles, all aimed at performing different functions. We reach deep sleep at the third cycle where our bodily functions drop to their lowest point and blood is regulated to the muscles for repair and rejuvenation. Deep sleep is an essential body and mind reboot that we need to navigate complex tasks and relationships in our everyday life.
Those who sleep less than six hours a night, slowly switch to a sleeping pattern where deep sleep cycles become shorter or are completely absent, and increased REM cycles which comprise of increased brain activity and dreaming. In such a scenario, the brain is unable to get the necessary break it requires.
Workplace costs of sleep deprivation
In an anonymous survey conducted by Sanofi,the relationship between sleep and work was explored. Talking numbers, sleep deprivation related dip in productivity cost close to $54 million a year across the four companies that were surveyed. There may be an array of problems affecting your sleeping pattern, ranging from work stress and health issues to lifestyle issues like alcoholism and smoking etc.
While most people have their own set of problems and therefore, solutions, here are a few things you can do to bring about some immediate relief until your specific problems can be diagnosed.
- Do not switch directly from heavy work to bed. It is always useful to give the brain some time for that switch, and let an easy transition. Doing something relaxing like reading a book, taking a shower, listening to some music or anything that calms you down could be a good way to ease into sleep.
- Bright lights tend to be good at keeping sleep at bay. This is why office spaces have such lighting to keep employees awake and alert, but your home doesn’t have to be so. Comforting, dim and warm lights help the eyes in relaxing and stop the secretion of hormones that keep you awake and alert.
- Do not hesitate from going to therapy. A lot of interpersonal problems can keep us up and thinking in the night. While overthinking does not solve any issues, it does surely keep sleep at bay. Therapy can help declutter your mind and keep those demons away for good!