They say that the winners in business are those who are able to burn the midnight oil, while others sleep, the winners are hard-working and ‘winning’.
What if we told you that the real winners are those who get the rest needed to operate at maximum capacity? Seems like a fairly obvious concept – but not many of us heed this advice. In fact, for the pursuit of a successful career, growing a business or empire, we decide to reduce our amount of quality sleep to allow for more time spent working.
However, the age old adage goes; quality over quantity. Just because you’re spending more hours a day working, doesn’t mean you’re as productive and efficient as when the hours you work after a good night’s sleep.
While there is plenty of information to suggest that the most successful people live on 4-5 hours of sleep a day, there is plenty of facts and evidence to suggest that this is bad for your health.
In fact, some of the most successful people in the world live off the required hours of sleep. Bill Gates requires 7-8 hours of sleep a day, while Jeff Bezos states he won’t even set an alarm to wake up to, so that tells you all you need to know about the importance of sleep to your body, mind and working day.
What happens to your body if you don’t get enough sleep
If you do not get enough sleep, your body can suffer from fatigue. Your mind becomes ‘cloudier’ in its ability to analyse, judge and make the correct decisions. This impacts your business decisions.
You may also find yourself losing focus and concentration, which can lead to procrastination and failing to deliver work/projects on time and correctly.
If a lack of sleep grows, you may actually begin to suffer from insomnia. This isn’t a direct impact of a lack of sleep, per se, but more so a direct result of work stresses/trauma that are now keeping your mind up at night.
This is the danger for the working person. A lengthy spell of insomnia can lead to mood-swings and motivation, as well as irritability – something you do not want to show at work.
For working professionals, losing focus during the day simply cannot happen, which is why de-stressing from it must be a top priority in order to get the required level of sleep quality and time.
The impact if this isn’t achieved is a potential risk to the delivery of commercial business goals, along with your own health, too.
What happens to your body when you get enough sleep
The true benefits of sleep are underestimated. Firstly, the most obvious result of a good night’s sleep is energy. With energy and motivation, your focus and concentration is increased and your general aura is much more positive than when you are without sleep.
As a result, you’re much more pleasant to be around in the office, more productive and able to deliver work more effectively. People who suffer from sleep deprivation or insomnia are 56% more likely to have impaired work performance. So, it’s extremely important for your own benefit to get the required sleep you need for optimal performance.
From a personal performance perspective, positive levels of sleep not only increase your working performance, but your physical and mental health, too.
Firstly, quality sleep boosts your immune levels. This is due to your ability to release proteins, which helps fend off bugs or help recover from them when you do get ill, which in turn means less days off work sick
Secondly, sleep boosts positive mental wellbeing. The NHS has surveyed people and found that those who suffered from depression, anxiety or were known to be irritable had not slept beyond 6 hours.
Consider this an important factor to your working effectiveness and positive impact on your working environment. With less sleep – the impact isn’t just detrimental to your own performance, but those you interact with, too.
Thirdly, sleep has the ability to fend off heart disease – a key driver for those looking to live a fuller, healthier life for longer. A healthier, happier you, is one who performs at a more optimal business level – a positive impact for your company, and your career.
What makes for a good sleep
What makes for a good, if not great sleep consists of a number of things:
Firstly, consider water. Drinking water before bed reduces the risk of a stroke or heart-attack. For those working in stressful conditions, this is an important point as stress and anxiety from work has been linked to strokes and heart conditions.
Water can interrupt your sleep-cycle though, so it must also be considered that if you’re a light sleeper and struggle to get back to sleep, drinking water before bed might wake you up throughout the night. Plan your water consumption wisely.
A quality mattress and pillows
Now this should go without saying, but high-quality mattresses and pillows have a real positive impact on your sleep quality and overall health. They help:
- Ensure that your body is well supported and that there are no pressure points pressing against any pressure-sensitive parts of your body. This helps the brain to fully relax and achieve a much deeper sleep without signalling pain or irritation from the pressure points.
- They also ensure your body is aligned to your spine and that there is no ‘drooping’ of the body due to poor support from the mattress or pillow.
- A mattress particularly ensures equal weight distribution across your body and the mattress sleeping surface.
These key factors ensure a ‘purer’ sleep, without interruption and an increased chance of quality ‘REM Sleep’ and ‘deep sleep’. This ensures complete rest and relaxation – something needed for working professionals delivering in high-pressure environments.
Organic quality bedding
Bedding contributes just as much as to your sleep quality and health as mattresses do. This might come as a surprise, but sleeping on something rough, like non-organic linen can irritate the skin and cause scratches, which wake you up throughout the night.
Furthermore, depending on how you sleep and how hot you get through the night, the type of bedsheet you use can also influence the quality of your sleep.
That is why organic cotton is always a recommended type of bedding for high-performing business professionals. Quality cotton bedding designers such as Square Flower create bedding that ensures a delightfully comfortable sleep. A combination of a quality bedding provider, a high-end mattress and planned water consumption will show direct improvements to your sleep quality over an extended period of time.
How to start sleeping better
If you’re looking to get that extra 15-25% out of your work efficiency and productivity, then reconsidering your sleeping efforts is key.
A combination of the type of bedding, mattress and water consumption can work as the foundation for delivering a quality night sleep that will revitalise your working day.
But you can also do more.
Combine your initial efforts with two other key strategies:
Admittedly, this is hard for senior leaders within big corporations, however, ‘turning off’ from the working day and removing screens from your activities an hour prior to going to bed has again proven to improve sleep quality and the chance of REM Sleep during the night.
Technology uses screens with backlighting – this delays your body’s circadian rhythm (also known as your body’s internal clock). In doing so, this suppresses your brain’s release of the sleep-inducing hormone ‘melatonin’.
Over time, studies have shown that using technology with backlighting that decreases your internal clock can lead to detrimental chronic sleep deprivation. Not only do you reduce the chance of REM Sleep and the length thereof, but you wake up drowsier, grumpier and less effective with your decision making.
Yoga before bed allows you body to stretch and relax after a long day’s work. In doing so, you increase the body’s blood flow, ensuring toxins built up can be flushed out and red blood cells can travel through your body more effectively.
Yoga is also proven to increase the brain’s ability to release GABA – chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid, which again improves your mood, directly impacting those you come into contact with during your working day.
Mindfulness and meditation can help you to focus your mind and concentrate on individual thoughts through its practice. In doing so, you can also focus so intently that you fall asleep (trust me I have done it). You can also practice meditation towards goals – the goal of quality sleep.
By practicing thoughts on having a quality sleep you can train and encourage your brain to invest its efforts in a quality sleep and rest. Thought is a powerful thing, and the power to focus your thoughts on having a quality night’s sleep can be the difference between a highly-performing professional and one who is not.