The clocks have been turned back, and we’re now trapped in what seems like perpetual darkness for the next few months. Winter isn’t coming; it’s here.
Every time we move the hand forward or back, our sleep cycles are disrupted, but that’s not uncommon in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that businesses in the United States lose an estimated $411 billion annually to lack of sleep.
In a recent article on EHSToday.com, Alvaro Vaselli, the founder and CEO of Nuvanna, explains why slowing down and getting a proper night’s rest can help leaders, and anyone for that matter, perform better.
“When the body achieves a natural flow with the mind, it makes a difference in how a person experiences the world,” he says. “This means making a commitment to being truly asleep when sleeping and truly present while awake. We each have an opportunity to put happiness within reach by building the right foundation for our lives, which starts with a truly restorative night’s sleep.”
Vaselli says the first benefit of a full night’s sleep is mental clarity. Remember pulling all-nighters in school, studying last-minute for that exam? Did you do well? What about certain job tasks? Do you feel like you are more careful, or are you taking short cuts because you just want to finish and go home for the day?
A body “running on fumes,” as he calls it, cannot perform at its peak. I admit; I sometimes am guilty of it and notice that I should have set aside more time for sleep, especially when I did not take the time to eat breakfast.
First impressions count, but lasting relationships between workers, customers and people in your life are the key to being successful. Because sleep relieves stress, a person can maintain positive mental health and eventually have a better work-life balance, Vaselli says. In terms of this, I personally like to picture someone handing a Snickers candy bar to someone else, but in this case I would give them a pillow.
Burn out is a real issue, and sometimes it is hard to leave work at work, as they say. That’s why Vaselli recommends making an effort to do just that in order to avoid unneeded stress and ultimately lower productivity.
“Leaders who do not disengage at the end of the day but instead constantly check their emails in the evenings and on weekends are the ones with a greater chance of burning out or being less engaged over time,” he says.
Everyone wakes up on the wrong side of the bed some days, even leaders. Starting the day right after sleeping well can set the tone for your workers and yourself. Vaselli recommends not jumping to check your email as soon as walk down the steps or into the office. Instead, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast, exercise and even meditate to get in gear.
Finally, sleep deprivation can cause you to be impatient and make poorer decisions, he says. In other words, sleeping for the recommended 7 to 8 hours potentially can reduce shortcuts, near-misses and even injuries from a safety standpoint.
RAND Co. researchers provide the following suggestions for workers, companies and others to improve sleep:
Individuals could: Set consistent wake-up times; limit the use of electronic items before bedtime and exercise.
Employers could: Recognize the importance of sleep and the employer’s role in its promotion; design and build brighter workspaces; combat workplace psychosocial risks and discourage the extended use of electronic devices.
Public authorities could: Support health professionals in providing sleep-related help; encourage employers to pay attention to sleep issues; and introduce later school starting times.
Next time you’re cranky, inattentive or not putting out your best work, stop and think about what a full night’s sleep could do for you. It could make a difference with your relationships, productivity and success.