If you’re in management or an office job, and feel that sleep is not that important, you’re not alone. If you do think sleep is important, but just don’t get enough, you’re absolutely not alone. A lot of people in this world feel the same. I used to think lack of sleep was a cool thing, a war wound, a chip on my shoulder. But I learned the importance of sleep and rest after seeing the difference it made in my performance.
I was a supervisor of a call center that handled phone calls with grieving families. There were intense calls and important decisions to be made every day. We operated at all hours of the day. It was hard to get a full night of sleep, let alone a full recharge of my batteries. Most of my years working there were in sleep deprivation.
There was a point where I started to pay attention to my rest. I wanted to recover from chronic exhaustion and tiredness. So I started looking into ways to get more sleep, and to rest my mind when I wasn’t in the office. I found that when I was able to get a full night of rest, I had high executive function. My decision making power was greater, and decision fatigue was offset. I think the biggest reason for this was that I was more able to prioritize.
With a full night of sleep, I was better able to manage my time and tell people “no” or reschedule things. I had more mind energy to deal with the stress of saying “no”, and more foresight as to the importance of doing so. Because I was able to see the full picture, I knew that it was of the utmost importance that I handle the task that mattered most. With insufficient rest, I had trouble dealing with persistent requests from people bringing up non-urgent issues.
When I prioritized well I was able to keep myself from doing spur of the moment biddings from others. Less distractions meant more focus on the important things. This fed a positive feedback loop. I felt better because I was doing things that mattered, and doing things that mattered made my day easier to navigate, and this made me feel even better.
I also felt more positive when I had a full night of sleep. A positive approach helped me say “no” to people in a generous, gentle way. I didn’t have to offend anyone through rejection, and I didn’t have to feel bad about it. I had the energy and mindset to be kind to people, even when they had the most urgent or emotionally charged problems thrown in my face. It was simply a matter of letting them know I would get back to them shortly. And I did.
I was doing the most important, and often the hardest, things, feeling great about it, about getting it done, about the rest of the day getting easier because of that. Prioritizing and keeping on task really does snowball into amazing days, and sleeping a full night increased my chances of doing this. And this really allowed me to treat others with more attention and respect, because I was taking care of myself and my work.
When fully rested, I trust myself more. I have a more positive view of myself, my abilities, and I dive into difficult tasks or situations because I know they are important and I know I can handle them. If I’m tired, this becomes much harder. My self confidence goes down, naturally, because I’m not sure if I have the energy to handle tough situations. How can I when I myself don’t feel taken care of? I think it’s just natural.
Strong trust in myself means I stick to my instincts, follow my gut, and let my intuition lead. In turn, doing this makes me feel better about myself. I’ve gone a certain route based on my own feeling, and found good results. I reinforce the idea that I’m trustworthy and capable.
Lastly, with plenty of sleep, time seems more abundant. I just feel more relaxed, even with deadlines or the end of the day approaching, or in really critical circumstances, because I feel more capable of using my time. I just know that I can handle whatever comes, and things don’t seem overwhelming.
For some good reference on the importance of sleep, check out Arianna Huffington. I heard about her book on sleep through the GaryVee show. She has recently been encouraging the world to sleep. In particular, she urges people in top positions of leadership to get their shut eye to help them make better decisions. She sleeps eight hours a day. Even her employees sleep well. And they’re kicking ass.