Leadership today demands a great deal of physical energy and stamina. Keeping
your battery levels going to deal with the complexity and stresses in the workplace can be draining and can leave you depleted of resources outside work. You may have tried things like changing the type of foods you eat and when you eat them or building more movement into your day to help boost your energy. But have you considered the importance of sleep?
During coaching conversations, I often hear “I’m too busy to sleep” or “sleep’s a
luxury I can’t afford” or even “4 hours sleep is all I need!”. If this sounds familiar I
encourage you to read on with curiosity to see if you could reframe your relationship with sleep, and maybe try out some new more helpful habits.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a sleep duration for healthy adults of 7-9 hours. When you sleep you go through cycles made up of different stages, from very light sleep to deep, slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep (REM), also known as dream sleep.
The reason why sleep is so important for our health and well-being is because it
performs vital maintenance functions that your mind and body needs. Think about what happens during sleep in these simple terms:
Physical repairs are carried out, such as boosting your immune system and restoring muscles and joints
Cognitive maintenance occurs, including enhancing memory and learning, sifting out and forgetting irrelevances
So if you don’t get enough sleep your mind and body have less ability to repair and recover, which could adversely impact concentration, mood and energy levels.
If the body repair analogy isn’t enough to convince you about the importance of
sleep let’s look at it from another frame of reference. Dr Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology who specialises in sleep, says quite bluntly “depriving yourself from sleep will shorten your life." (Pop that statement into your search engine if you’re curious to explore further!)
Dr Walker suggests five practical steps for improving the quality of your sleep:
Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, even on non-work days
Dim the lights in your home an hour before bed, and especially stay away from screens – the blue lights emitted from phones fool your brain into thinking it’s still daytime
Keep your bedroom cool, at around 18C
Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which prevent your brain going into natural sleep
In the event you can’t sleep, get up and go into another room, read a book in dim light and return to bed when you feel sleepy
Are you convinced to invest in your productivity by resetting your brain and body health each day with a good quality night’s sleep?