Stop Skimping on Sleep

And “Sleep your way to the top…”

Suggests Arianna Huffington, Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post. She clarifies, “I was making a speech about sleep as a performance enhancer…our creativity, ingenuity, confidence, leadership, and decision-making can all be enhanced simply by getting enough sleep.”

How many times have you heard the saying, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead?” If you’re consistently skimping on sleep, that day may come sooner than you think.  The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School found that a “lack of sleep over time has been associated with a shorter lifespan.”

For the past few decades, America has been living under the delusion that sleep deprivation is essential to success. Living in the corporate world’s workaholic culture, we guzzle down coffee and energy drinks to make it through our day and take pride in pulling an all-nighter to finish a project. However, the science on sleep tells us that sleep is the most important factor in mental performance and productivity.

In May, after Hillary Clinton received a wave of media backlash for miss-crediting the Reagans as being at the forefront of the AIDS and HIV conversation in the 1980’s, she publicly apologized for her mistake, citing that she was sleep-deprived and exhausted.

A lack of sleep can create both mental and physical health problems, such as depression, poor immune function, and even a high, unhealthy body mass index (BMI). It can also negatively affect judgment, productivity, and the ability to learn and retain information. Prolonged sleep deprivation has even been linked to chronic problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

A Forbes article cites that a lack of sleep affects the body in nearly the exact same way as drinking alcohol. After 24-hours without sleep the body is in the same impaired state as it is with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.1%, well over the legal limit of 0.08% BAC which identifies someone as legally intoxicated. Would you go into the office and make business decisions while intoxicated? When you are sleep deprived, the two are nearly the same thing.

Think you can rely on the miracle fix-all—a giant cup of coffee—to boost energy and mental alertness when sleep deprived? A recent study conducted at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, as reported in the Huffington Post, found that coffee may not be working as well as you think, and can even negatively affect your ability to get restful sleep. If you are consistently getting five hours of sleep or less, then “the same effective daily dose of caffeine is not sufficient to prevent performance decline.” On the other hand, as long as you haven’t exceeded more than three days in a row with less than five hours of sleep, you can still experience the performance boosting benefits of coffee.

Corporate America may finally be waking up to the benefits of catching some good zzz’s.

With top companies such a Google, Nike, and Amazon providing “nap rooms” for their employees to rest, relax, and recharge during their 9-to-5 workday, the stigma against mid-day napping and getting a full 8 hours of sleep may finally be put to rest.

Sleep may just be the new coffee.…On second thought, let’s not get carried away.

Log those 8 hours each night then wake-up to your precious cup of joe.  

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