Do you sleep at least eight hours every night? If not, here’s what may be happening to you. You are more likely to:
- Take longer to do your work.
- Come up with fewer and less accurate solutions to work problems.
- Choose easier work (like listening to voice messages) over harder work (like creative problem solving and planning)
- Be much less creative and strategic.
- Say that you don’t like your job and other things in your life (a general mood-depressing effect of less sleep).
- Act in unethical ways, like padding a travel expense report.
And the worst part? When you are sleep deprived, you don’t recognize that you are sleep deprived and suffering the effects that go along with it. For example, if you’re driving, you may think you’re still in control of the car even when you’re sleepy, but you’re not. We are not good judges of our own abilities at that point.
The previous examples come from a powerful book released this fall, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
, by University of California, Berkeley professor Matthew Walker, Ph.D. According to Matthew, the most important step you can take is to start going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep? Matthew suggests asking yourself these questions:
- Are you sleeping eight hours per day?
- Can you wake up every day without an alarm clock?
- If around 10 or 11 a.m., someone offered you a cozy sleeping area, would you take them up on that?
- Do you need your coffee before noon to function optimally?
The Biggest Snoozer
In the TV show The Biggest Loser, contestants compete to see who can shed the most weight by the end of the season. At many companies, employees hold contests where each week they encourage one another to make healthy food choices and to exercise, often donating the weekly kitty to charity or a fun team-building event. What if you started a competition at your workplace called "The Biggest Snoozer?" Instead of tracking the number of pounds lost, you could track the number of hours slept. Imagine how much more productive and happy you would all be. No more cranky bosses. No more finger-pointing because someone didn’t make a deadline. No more angry outbursts because someone is dead-tired.
In the book, Matthew shows how your basic health may be affected by not getting enough ZZZs, drawing relationships between shorter sleep and the common cold, immunity problems, and even cancer and heart disease.
Our advice for getting a good night’s sleep and feeling refreshed the next day?
- Margaret suggests eliminating caffeine. Or, if you really must have it, don’t drink it after 1 p.m. And shut down screens, be it computer or TV, starting at least one hour before bedtime.
- Senia recommends getting into bed by 9:30 p.m. If you read in bed, try a real book, not an e-book, to avoid the bright screen. Turn the lights off by 10:30 p.m.
MARGARET H. GREENBERG and SENIA MAYMIN, Ph.D., are sought-after executive coaches, speakers and positive psychology practitioners, and the authors of the book Profit From the Positive. Find more information about their coaching and certificate programs at ProfitFromthePositive.com.