There used to be a set playbook for getting ahead in your career. Work a lot of hours, anticipate what your boss needs before they ask for it and constantly be hustling for more opportunities, promotions, and recognition. But as things have shifted in our culture, and employee well-being and engagement is more important than ever before, there’s one critical behavior that will help you crush your career while thriving in all aspects of your life – get enough sleep.
If you had told me that at the beginning of my career decades ago, I would have rolled my eyes or snorted. A self-styled go-getter, I prided myself on being an insomniac who got by on five hours or less of slumber each night because I was too wired to rest. Yes, I was successful, but that lifestyle took its toll. I was obese until age 27 and even after losing the extra pounds, religiously exercising, and eating better, not getting enough rest certainly heightened my stress and contributed to my Crohn’s Disease diagnosis later in life.
These days, I regard sleep as the Holy Grail of Wellness, but one that’s attainable without having to undertake a mythical quest. That is because quality sleep powers so much goodness in your professional and personal life. Sleep makes you smarter, more successful and gives you the energy to activate your full potential.
Just ask Certified Sleep Coach Morgan Adams. When I asked why quality sleep is so important, she explained, “Getting enough sleep can improve your concentration, productivity, mood, and focus. It can also lower your risk of some chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and mental illness.”
According to this Harvard Business Review article “How Much is Bad Sleep Hurting Your Career,” the author notes how widespread sleep deprivation is in the workforce, citing that about 25% of U.S. adults experience insomnia, which can decrease their productivity and workplace performance.
Adams concurs. “There have been studies showing that when workers are sleep-deprived, their engagement and job satisfaction plummets,” she said. “They’re less charismatic, more abusive as supervisors, and more likely to engage in unethical behavior. Our relationships in our personal lives can also be impacted by getting better sleep. We tend to be more patient, empathetic, and altruistic with our friends and family when we’ve gotten enough quality sleep.”
Good stuff, right? With all of that in mind, it feels like getting enough sleep helps you create a competitive advantage in your career. You think more clearly and feel better. Your rested mind can take a more strategic perspective to the projects, deadlines, and opportunities before you. Plus, you build better relationships and have more stamina at work and at home.
Convinced that getting enough sleep is going to super charge your career? Here are a few tips from Adams to get more of it:
- Wake up at the same time every morning (even weekends) to keep your circadian rhythm strong.
- Make sure to get at least 10 minutes of morning light, without wearing sunglasses, as soon as possible after waking. This will encourage your hormones to be more in balance throughout the day.
- Get daily movement. Have to admit this one made my heart soar – literally as well as metaphorically, because I always sleep better when exercising.
- Establish a strong morning routine that incorporates mindfulness and a solid evening routine that focuses on relaxation. Yikes, did I need this reminder! Over the past few months I’ve had laptop creep after dinner where I went back to answering emails, writing, working and more for an additional hour or two and inevitably, had trouble quieting my mind and falling asleep on those nights.
- Keep work out of your bedroom. Only use your bed for sleep and intimacy.
What impact is your current level of sleep having on your career?