Is sleep for “losers”? On the contrary, mounting evidence reveals that adequate sleep – which, notably, can involve napping in the workplace – is linked to higher productivity, creativity, and sounder decision-making.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer claims to sleep a mere four hours a night, as does PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi. Apple CEO Tim Cook boasts about being the first in the office and the last one to leave, and says he’s in the gym by 5 a.m. each morning, leaving him scant time for sleep. In fact, there are an incredible number of high-profile, successful people who humble-brag about sacrificing sleep in order to pack more into the day, including Twitter founder and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, U.S. president Barack Obama… The list goes on. The message behind all of this self-reported sleep deprivation seems to be nicely summed up by the characteristically overstated question of 4-hour-per-night-sleeper, Donald Trump, who asks: “How does somebody that’s sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that’s sleeping three or four?” And yet, science does not support this idea that sacrificing sleep is a necessary step on the path to greatness. In fact, the evidence suggests that sacrificing sleep significantly comprises productivity, creativity, and decision-making capabilities.
Sleep deprivation is costing you – and your company
A 2015 study of 21,000 employees in the UK by Vitality Health found that those who slept for seven hours or more per night were more productive and effective in their jobs than those who regularly slept six hours or less. Meanwhile, a major 2011 study led by the faculty director of Harvard’s sleep medicine division, Charles Czeisler, found that the average amount of sleep people get per night during the workweek has decreased to less than (the crucial) seven hours per night. People on average now sleep an hour-and-a half less than we did 50 years ago, when the average was a healthy eight-anda- half hours. Culprits include increased workplace demands and associated longer working hours (a 2009 study of British employees found that working more than 55 hours a week, versus 35 to 40 hours, almost doubles rates of insomnia). Another cause for the decrease is believed to be increased exposure to blue light from screens, which disturbs people’s circadian rhythms and makes it harder to fall asleep at night. Without even entering into the serious long-term health costs of what Arianna Huffi ngton, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the eponymous media site, calls today’s “sleep deprivation crisis,” the immediate financial costs for companies are high. For example, Czeisler’s 2011 study found that inadequate sleep results in an average loss of 11.3 days of productivity per employee per year, or the equivalent of $2,280, representing a total loss of $63.2 billion per year to the nation as a whole.
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Based on “Late sleepers are tired of being discriminated against. And science has their back” by Brian Resnick (Vox, 1 June 2016); “Devriez-vous vous lever (beaucoup) plus tôt le matin ?” by Mehdi Ramdani (LinkedIn, 15 February 2016) ; “The average worker loses 11 days of productivity each year due to insomnia, and companies are taking notice” by Jena McGregor (The Washington Post, 30 July 2015) ; “The secret of success: Needing less sleep?” by Laura Vanderkam (Fortune Magazine, 20 March 2012).