Passionate presenters and ambitious business leaders: Your grit and pluck might not be helping you as much as you think – especially if your tenacity is getting in the way of your shuteye time. The good news though is sleeping is a pleasurable activity for most people, and it has the power to make your life and job easier and more enjoyable. There’s always a silver lining, right? Let’s dive deeper into the topic of sleep, and discover the secrets to catching the right amount of zzz’s for optimal professional performance.
The topic of sleep is getting a lot of press recently – and for good reason. Forty percent of all Americans and 70 percent of adolescents are sleep deprived, according to the San Francisco Chronicle article Sleepless in America explores toll of sleep deprivation. The sleep deprivation situation is serious enough for the CDC to classify the issue a “public health epidemic,” with sleep insufficiency linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.
If you’re one of many professionals burning the candle at both ends, you might think sleeping less is admirable because less sleep results in increased productivity. Less sleep however does not equal more output for most professionals. Less sleep often leads to a decrease in health, happiness, and overall success.
Less Innovation, Lower Job Satisfaction, and Unethical Behavior
In 5 Things You Should Know About Sleep Health in the Workplace, Carolyn Gregoire summarizes some of the findings of Harvard Medical School’s 2013 Corporate Sleep Health Summit and concludes: We’ve known for some time that sleep deprivation is associated with decreased productivity and a lack of focus, but that’s not the end of the story: Insufficient sleep is also linked with less innovation, lower job satisfaction and unethical behavior in the workplace.
That’s not all though. There are additional problems that will arise in your career if you choose to sleep less, and work more.
Getting too few hours of quality shuteye can take a major toll on your confidence, which is a serious issue for presenters and other business leaders who need to make a positive impression with their physical presence.
Here’s how it works: When you don’t get enough sleep, your body tries to compensate by pumping out an excessive amount of the stress hormone cortisol. Because cortisol can cause weight gain, prematurely aged skin, and turn you into a bundle of nerves, as well as decrease the production of testosterone in men, cortisol can effectively steal that intangible spark (a.k.a. confidence) that helps you own a room.
A lack of sleep can also turn you into a slacker, thus making your job more difficult, and your results less exceptional.
If you need to design slides for an upcoming presentation, but instead you mindlessly scroll through your Facebook feed, you might need to get more sleep. According to a study by Singapore Management University, sleep deprived individuals are more likely to engage in cyberloafing activities such as checking personal email or visiting unrelated websites. The fact that sleep-deprived people are more apt to give in to cyberloafing temptation can also be seen on the first Monday after the switch to daylight saving time, when Google users search for 3.1% to 6.4% more entertainment-related websites than on other Mondays, the researchers say, according to Less sleep, more slacking, an article David Turley Wagner.
The results are in: sleep can improve your memory. In 2009 and earlier, this popular theory was challenged as scientists wrestled with a contradicting theory that suggested sensory signals in the mind are inactive during sleep. In recent years though, sleep has regained its proper place on the list of factors that affect memory.
Sleep gives our minds the opportunity to consolidate and commit new information to long term memory, thus simplifying the recall process. In addition, a good night’s rest makes learning the next day easier. So whether your plans for tomorrow include being in the audience to learn from a presentation, or being on stage to deliver a presentation, you need to get adequate sleep to be an ideal presentation participant.
In addition, your ability to creatively process memories and information is enhanced by a good snooze. So, not only will you remember more information, but you will also have more insight regarding the best use of that information. It’s a win all-around.
The Magic Number
At this point, you are probably desperate to learn the magical number of hours a person must sleep for optimal performance. The National Sleep Foundation reports the ideal amount of time a person should sleep differs across geographical regions, age groups, and genders. Sleep requirements are also somewhat based on individual physiology. The required amount of sleep is also impacted by the amount sleep debt accumulated as a result of sleep deprivation.
If you need a definitive answer though, aim for approximately seven hours of sleep every night. If you are one of the few people who sleeps more than eight hours every night, you should probably try to sleep less. Since so many people are sleep deprived, excessive sleeping receives less time in the spotlight, however the habit of sleeping for more than eight hours can be detrimental to your health.
How To Be A Healthy Sleeper
Before you get into bed, adjust your thermostat. Generally speaking, your head should be cool but not cold, and the rest of your body should be at skin temperature while asleep. To achieve the ideal balance of a cool head and warm body, pick the perfect combination of pajamas and blankets that will keep your body from shivering during sleep and waking you from slumber.
The National Sleep Foundation also recommends finishing eating three hours before bedtime, keeping a regular sleep schedule – even on weekends, and exercising regularly. According to the Forbes article The Sleep Habits Of Reliable Workers, 30 minutes of daily exercise can increase sleep time by an average of 45 minutes. The same article reports that a 10-20 minute nap every day can improve your productivity, and eliminate fatigue. Oddly enough, the article also suggest drinking coffee before your nap to increase the effectiveness of both the nap and the cup of coffee.
For presenters and professionals, healthy sleep starts with planning. Don’t leave big projects until the midnight hour, and don’t try to finish last minute tasks while in bed. Plan ahead so you can get to bed at a reasonable hour.
If planning doesn’t cut your workload and improve your sleep habits, you might have too many responsibilities. If that’s the case, ask yourself: Am I saying YES to everything? William Buffett is quoted as saying, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” Instead of accepting every public speaking opportunity that comes your way, or joining every board that sends you an invitation, review your schedule and goals to identify the most appropriate opportunities for you.
If you have an upcoming presentation, we can lighten your workload.
Contact us today to learn about our award-winning presentation design services.
1. Sleepless in America, a National Geographic film
2. Skipping Sleep Is Career Suicide by Travis Bradberry
3. Lack of Sleep Can Lower Testosterone by Bari Lieberman
4. Sleep On It by Vicki Contie, Dana Steinberg and Harrison Wein
5. 5 Amazing Things Your Brain Does While You Sleep by Carolyn Gregoire