We’ve all been through it: you’re up late at night, you’ve got work in the morning, and you’re not going to get the sleep you need. At first, you think you can make up for it by inhaling some coffee after you wobble out of bed. And sure, you might get through the day without a dent in your armor, but what about the next day or the one after that? If you keep this pattern up, you’re doomed to suffer in many areas of your life. And the biggest target is going to be your career.
Sleep deprivation has been proven to hurt your social and family life, and it’s no mystery why. You’re short with people, your temper is flaring, and your mental energy, or what's left of it, is being spent on yawning and lucid napping rather than on those you care about. This portion of your life is clearly going to falter.
However, we tend to exclude our professional aspirations from the list of things we sacrifice. In fact, many entrepreneurs view sleep deprivation as a virtue, claiming that staying awake working for a couple more hours will bring us closer to our goal than if we were to just dive into bed. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
According to a a study done by the University of Oxford and the Royal Society for Public Health, if you go 17 hours without sleep, you’re faculties will be affected the same way as someone with a 0.05 percent blood alcohol content. That amount of drinking is considered “impaired” in the United States. If you go 24 hours, you’ll be at 0.1%, which is over the legal limit to drive. You will literally be unfit to drive if you don’t sleep for a day.
Think about how that affects your work. You might be spending an extra three hours into the night thinking that it’s going to get your company off the ground quicker, but you need to evaluate what the quality of those hours are.
Companies are catching on to this as well. They’re noticing that sleep deprivation is hindering their employees’ productivity and they’re taking measures to change that. Price Waterhouse Cooper, the accounting firm now made infamous by the Oscars Best Picture mix-up, has implemented sleep training to its employees as a means of improving performance.
Companies can pay for experts to come in and evaluate why employees aren’t getting enough sleep and what they should do to improve. They’re sort of like sleep nutritionists. The Sleep School, for instance, comes into companies and determines what might be making employees stressed and creates tailored programs to solve those problems and allow them to get proper sleep.
As much as we want to grind through our work as fast as possible, we have to take our health into account. We might neglect our health because it doesn’t seem directly pertinent to the success we see in our careers, but we have to retrain our brains to understand the importance of sleep. From a professional interest, we are dramatically lowering our chance of success in the workplace. So to anyone reading this who didn’t get enough shuteye last night, do yourself a favor and take a quick nap.
Photo: Flickr / Andrew Roberts