How Sleep Impacts Productivity and Success

Have you ever noticed that the better you sleep the better you perform the next day? This relationship is no coincidence. Find out how sleep impacts productivity and your chances of success.

By Nicole Gleichmann

We’ve all felt the difference between days that follow a restful night of sleep and those that follow a night full of sleep deprivation. When you don’t spend enough hours tucked in at night, the next day you will feel tired, your memory and performance won’t be the same, and your overall productivity in every aspect of life suffers.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a schoolteacher, a student, a salesperson, a construction worker, or an engineer – not getting enough sleep will hinder your performance, both how well you do and how much you’re capable of getting done. It can result in making less money, getting poor grades, or even losing your job.

Insufficient Sleep is a National Crisis

Lost productivity related to poor sleep is estimated to cost the United States $411 billion a year. But it’s not just the financial bottom line that suffers when we don’t get a good night’s sleep. A lack of sleep can lead to falling asleep at the wheel, medical errors, and other fatal accidents.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, in 2008 in the United States:

  • More than ¼ of workers report daytime sleepiness interfering with their daily activities a few days or more each month.
  • 29% of people claimed to have become very sleepy or fallen asleep at work in the past month.
  • 12% of employees showed up late to work because of sleepiness

So, why are so many of us experiencing troubles getting enough sleep?

1. We Prioritize Other Things

Let’s be honest, we can all probably think of a time in recent history where we chose to do something else instead of sleeping. Whether you chose to have a night out with friends, continued binge-watching the addictive new Netflix series, or finished the murder mystery page-turner, we’ve all been guilty at one time or another of treating sleep as an afterthought.

There’s always coffee, right?

2. We Have a Sleep Disorder

The incidence of sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and snoring is growing. If you have a sleep disorder, getting enough high-quality sleep can be a challenge.

3. We Practice Poor Sleep Hygiene

Many of us who have difficulties falling asleep or sleeping soundly during the night are unintentional victims of poor sleep hygiene, where our actions or our sleep environment set us up for failure. Blue light from our many screens, drinking caffeine late in the day, or sleeping in a room that’s too hot or too cold are just a few examples of poor sleep hygiene that can result in trouble sleeping.

Sleep and Productivity

Getting the proper amount of sleep each night allows your mind and body to perform at their best. Countless studies have found sleep critical for many factors that can enhance productivity, and with it, your chances of succeeding at your personal goals.

1. Sleep Heightens Focus

You walk into work and head directly into an hour-long meeting led by one of the most boring presenters in your company…who is also the CEO. She calls on you right in the middle of the presentation; do you know what she asked you? This and similar moments can be make-or-breaks for your career, and the last thing you want is your attention veering from the task-at-hand to what you’re doing later in the day.

Sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to your ability to concentrate for long periods of time. By getting enough sleep, you can keep your focus strong.

2. Sleep Enhances Memory and Learning

When you need to recall something, whether you’re giving a presentation or taking a test, you rely on your memory to function properly. Unfortunately, if you haven’t gotten enough shuteye, your memory is destined to suffer. Not to mention, your ability to learn new things, too, won’t be what it could be.

3. Sleep Boosts Mental and Physical Energy

Do you ever find yourself fizzling out halfway through the day, or even earlier? Insufficient sleep is often the culprit. Good sleep habits are a way to recharge your body and mind. When you’ve slept well, you can perform better on tasks that require both intellectual prowess and physical activity.

4. Sleep Strengthens Willpower

You know how some days you’re capable of eating healthy food, getting to work early, reading instead of watching television, and hitting the gym, but other days it seems impossible to simply get to work on time?

Each of these tasks requires a bit of willpower, something that scientists have found to be a finite resource. This means that you only have so much willpower over the day, and each time you practice self-control, a bit more of it is burned.

While there are many strategies to help you boost your willpower reserves, getting enough sleep is one strategy you can count on. By getting enough sleep, you set yourself up with the inner strength you need to make good choices.

The Best Amount of Sleep for Ultimate Productivity

When you need to function at your best, the foundation of your performance is the quantity and quality of sleep that you get. While the amount of sleep required can vary from one person to another, seven hours of sleep appears to be the ideal quantity for most people. But remember, quality of sleep is just as important as quantity, so do what you can do ensure a restful night’s sleep too.


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