Scrabble Tiles Spelling out "Get Good Sleep"

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

We all know that we need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, but how often do we really get it? Even missing an hour or two of sleep can have adverse effects on our health, mood, concentration, and judgment. Struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep can cause us to behave in ways our well-rested selves would not. As JoJo Jensen, an American voice actor, said, “Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year olds.” For many of us, our families have learned to not get between us and our first cup of coffee.

As leaders, we are responsible for our employees, teams, and organizations, and a lack of sleep can affect our ability to be effective leaders. A McKinsey report from 2016 showed that 66% of the executives surveyed were dissatisfied with how much sleep they get, and 55% were dissatisfied with the quality of their sleep. Yet, 83% of those leaders said not enough effort was spent educating their employees about the importance of sleep. There are growing efforts to promote health and wellness at the organizational level, mindfulness and meditation are frequently recommended to help manage stress. But, as the Dalai Lama said, “Sleep is the best meditation.” 

If 83% of our leaders and employees are sleep-deprived, the organizational costs can be huge. Sleep deprived leaders struggle to solve problems effectively, don’t seek out different perspectives, and ignore the need to support others. These three leadership behaviors are strongly correlated with healthy organizations achieving their goals.

If you struggle to fall asleep at night, these tips may help:

  1. Avoid smartphones or tablets a few hours before bed. The blue light tells your brain it is still daytime, so allow your mind to get ready for bed by putting these devices down.
  2. Keep the bedroom cool, a cooler body temperature helps you fall and stay asleep.
  3. Have a regular sleep schedule to allow your brain to adjust to the routine.
  4. Limit caffeine as it can stay in your system for more than 6 hours.

Perhaps you find it difficult to stay asleep? If so, try these tips:

  1. A relaxing bath with Epsom salt allows your skin to absorb magnesium, which plays a role in deactivating adrenalin.
  2. Have a non-digital book on your bedside table that you can read, for fun. Our brains are not affected by the paper like it is from the blue light of an electronic device, and it can reduce the frustration of waking up and being unable to fall back to sleep.

You might find it helpful to share these tips with your employees and colleagues.