Operating on little sleep used to be a badge of honor in the workplace. Bags under the eyes communicated hard work and commitment. You could accomplish more with less, right?
Science is now revealing something dramatically different from this idea that little sleep is a sign of strength. For most people, sleep deprivation is connected with poor performance, not better. The sleep deprived may be awake more, but they often do less than their well-rested colleagues.
If you are a leader, sleep affects your ability to lead well. Let’s look at six reasons why you need to stop being a sleepy leader:
- You are less engaged. When you are sleep deprived, it becomes difficult to concentrate on the work at hand. You also do not have the energy to participate at a high level. So you come across as being distanced from the work and your team. Because you are.
- You have worse memory. Lack of sleep hurts recollection. It hinders your ability to retain information. Therefore, learning also becomes more difficult. And the best leaders are constant learners.
- Your creativity struggles. Thinking outside of the box is more difficult when you are operating on little sleep. You will find it more difficult to stretch for new ideas, which can cause you to lead your team into a rut.
- Your have a poor attitude. Those with little sleep tend to be in worse moods than those who are well-rested. And you should be in a worse mood—you’re tired. A poor mood can cause you to make regretful interactions with your team. You may say things that you would not have said and react in ways that you would not have reacted had you been well-rested.
- You are more likely to get sick. Sleep helps your body repair. By reducing the number of sleep hours your body needs, you are putting your immune system at a disadvantage. So now you are in a poor mood and feeling under the weather.
- You are on the edge of burnout. There should be no surprise that if you are less engaged, in a rut, and have a poor attitude that you are more likely to experience burnout. Sometimes, it is the job. But sometimes, it is you. Be sure to determine the cause of your burnout before you leave your team.
Why not start tonight? Begin your nighttime routine earlier. Give yourself a chance to see how you function with more sleep. If you don’t feel better and notice an improvement in your leadership over a few weeks, you can always go back to being the tired, grumpy leader that you have always been.