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Hooked on ZZZ’s: Why Leaders Should Promote a ‘Work Hard, Sleep Hard’ Culture

By Hannah Wilson:

Sleep. We all need it. Without a good night’s sleep, your productivity at work can drop. When you’re sleepy at work, your brain is less creative and struggles to retain information. Sleep is critical when it comes to health and productivity — it’s important for mental and emotional health, as well as learning and focusing. The Better Sleep Council estimates that sleep deprivation costs US businesses over $150 billion per year. It’s time to wake up!

You Snooze, You Actually Don’t Lose

Sleep deprivation happens when a lack of sleep becomes normal. The saying “you snooze, you lose” could not be more wrong. Roughly 1/3 of Americans do not get enough sleep. Bad sleep will have you nodding off at important meetings, yawning at your desk all day, and you’ll be unable to focus, no matter how hard you try. When professionals are sleepy at work, they tend to accept it and keep going, but a sleep-deprived work culture is not the culture you want at your company. Well-rested workers are happier and perform better at their jobs.

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When you snooze, you actually win! Naps help the brain retain information. Your stamina, alertness, and mood can all be improved by napping. In fact, even a 40-minute nap improved alertness by 100%. Naps, when combined with caffeine, are also effective at improving alertness. Overall, naps improve social and personal interactions which lead to a more pleasant workplace.

We sometimes forget how important sleep is for completing tasks, decision making, and communicating in general. In fact, people with insomnia were 56% more likely to have impaired work performance. You will notice a decline in work performance and a bigger need for employees to take absences of two weeks or longer from their jobs as a consequence of lack of sleep.

Resting may be easier said than done, but sleep deprivation can really bring down your productivity. So, how many hours of sleep do you need to be most productive? Everyone’s answer is different, but 7-9 hours of sleep is the typical amount suggested by health professionals. We focus more on working than we do on sleeping — a serious issue that workplaces should combat. When workers begin to make positive lifestyle changes to promote better sleep habits, their work-life will be changed for the better.

Work Hard, Sleep Just As Hard

With good sleep habits, you won’t just be more productive, you’ll be healthier, too. Studies have shown a 37% reduced risk of heart disease, heart failure, and death among people who nap. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re at a higher risk for mental disorders and physical ailments. And, your immune system can be impacted, too.

A good night of sleep promotes a better mood, more energy, and sharper focus. Read this article from @Hannah_RBM and learn why your company should promote a ‘work hard, sleep hard’ culture! Click To Tweet

Since sleep deprivation stresses you out, it’s important to fix sleep problems before they get worse. A stressed brain can negatively affect your overall well-being; your mental, emotional, and physical health are all at stake. Establishing a healthy sleep routine can make you both a better worker and a happier person. To ensure your brain and body are well-rested and prepared to function, you should have these 3 components:

1. Quantity. The amount of sleep you get matters; 7-9 hours is the sweet spot. Setting a regular bedtime may help you get the right amount on a regular basis.

2. Quality. A full night’s sleep doesn’t help much if you aren’t sleeping well. Avoid things that disrupt your sleep — like eating too close to bedtime or sleeping with your phone nearby — to get a restful sleep without interruptions.

3. Regularity. Maintaining a strict sleep schedule helps ensure your circadian rhythm stays regular. You might even start waking up, fully rested, before your alarm goes off.

When you don’t get the sleep your body needs, your body doesn’t get the time it needs to take care of itself. If you’re constantly awake, it has to focus on all the other things you’re doing. With an adequate amount of sleep, your body can more effective stave off illness, repair wear and tear on your muscles, and reset your emotional well-being. You’ll wake up rested, refreshed, and healthy.

Don’t Give up on Sleep

Sleep is often the first thing people sacrifice when they’re busy. Some companies have begun to take a progressive approach: Google has Energy Pods that allow employees to nap when needed; some Nike campuses provide quiet rooms for workers to rest or meditate. But don’t mistake naps to mean employees are being lazy — they’re a great way to get better sleep. If you can’t seem to get 7 hours of sleep a night, a 20-minute power nap during the day can help you. Although there is no perfect solution, let’s look at ways to establish healthier sleep patterns:

  • Wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends
  • Establish consistency with a nighttime routine. This can be difficult, but it’s worth it for more regular sleep.
  • Set up your bedroom for successful sleep by having little to no distractions. Keep it dark, quiet, and cool.
  • Avoid caffeine up to at least 6 hours before sleeping
  • Avoid cigarettes and alcohol as much as possible
  • Exercise during the day, rather than in the evening. Exercising too late can keep you awake and restless; exercising earlier can help to tire out your body for sleep.
  • Activities that involve electronics before bed are no good. Blue light from your devices actually disrupts circadian rhythms because your body correlates it to sunlight.

Different countries have an afternoon rest for 1-2 hours that is a normal part of their culture; Spain and other Latin American countries traditionally have a siesta, Italy and Greece have a riposo, Germany practices a midday rest, Sweden has a fika mid-afternoon, and China and Japan often have naps after lunch.

Good sleep promotes a better mood, more energy, and sharper focus. Positive results will flow into your work-life when you know the value of good sleep. Start emphasizing the power of good sleep in your workplace today!