According to the latest research by Rand Europe, sleep deprivation costs businesses in America a staggering $400 billion dollars every year!
I don’t need to tell you that when you own your own business, every dollar counts, especially in the early days when you’re still fighting to establish yourself and find your particular niche in the market.
That’s why it’s doubly important for people like us to make sure we’re getting the right amount of sleep. Otherwise you’re just giving yourself another unnecessary disadvantage. One that your competitors might not be dealing with.
But how does a lack of sleep affect you, and why is it so important?
When you’re tired, you can’t think straight
Being tired has a massive amount of negative effects on your brain, including:
Hugely impaired decision making
Studies have shown that when you’re tired, it affects your mind in the same way as getting drunk. In fact, just going 18 hours without sleep affects your mind in precisely the same way as two glasses of wine would. Ask yourself, would you trust yourself to make business decisions drunk? If not, then why would you trust yourself to make them tired? It’s the same principle.
Impaired and bizarre emotions
Just one night of bad sleep causes our minds to mimic the effects of depression, with the symptoms only getting worse the more tired we become. On top of this, being tired actually causes us to deal with emotions in abnormal ways. Often we react more negatively to situations that normally wouldn’t affect us.
Memory and recall
When we sleep is when we recharge, and when our minds sort through the milieu of the day. If you’re not getting enough restful, deep REM sleep, then when it comes to crunch time, you might find yourself incapable of remembering key information.
Higher stress levels
The brains of sleep deprived people show increased levels of stress hormones compared to normal. Plus the lack of sleep also leaves them in permanent adrenal fight or flight mode. Because your mind is constantly anxious, you’re going to be unable to focus on what matters, and any further stress is going to hit you that much harder.
Sleep deprivation leads to huge amounts of long-term health problems
Lack of sleep has been linked to multiple problems, including:
- Heart disease and high blood pressure
- Mood disorders
- Immune system problems
- Testosterone deficiency
Not only that, but regularly running on empty also increases your chances of dying early by as much as 13%.
How these stats affect your business
So we understand just how important sleep is, but what does this directly mean for us and our businesses?
Poorer performance and productivity
In a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, even just losing 30 minutes of sleep can have a direct impact on productivity due to the sloppiness and lack of focus being tired causes.
On top of wasted hours from lack of productivity, the increased difficulty learning, lack of motivation and emotional problems that come from being tired also contribute to impaired performance.
Health problems lead to less time at work
People who sleep no more than seven hours per night are four times as likely to catch colds, leading to more sick days taken and more time off work.
And this is without going into the huge amount of long term health effects we detailed earlier, any one of which could prove debilitating enough to prevent you from working for the rest of your life.
The emotional effects make you a worse leader
If you work with anyone else, whether a partner or employees, then you need to be the most effective colleague possible.
Yet the emotional effects that come from lack of sleep make it far more likely that you’ll take simple social interactions in a negative way, as well as simply coming off as less charismatic and likeable.
You’re far more likely to make mistakes
Lack of sleep has been tied to Chernoble, Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez crises, and more.
All of the symptoms of sleep deprivation mean that you’re far more likely to make bad decisions and mistakes. When it’s a multinational corporation, they might be able to handle a mistake here and there (though we don’t recommend doing that). But when it’s your business, who knows how many mistakes you can cope with before you sink?
But what can you do?
Well, luckily there’s a few methods you can follow to help you get a decent night’s sleep, especially if you’re not tired or your mind just won’t shut off.
- Get into a sleeping routine. Our bodies and minds follow patterns, so going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day has a huge effect on sleep and hormone levels.
- Set up your bedroom for sleep. As dark as possible, cool but not cold, and with little to no noise.
- Only ever use your bed for sleeping and sex. Anything else teaches your brain that you can do other things in your bed.
- Never use electronics in bed, and try to switch them off an hour before you have to sleep.
- If you can’t shut your mind off, then write down what you’re thinking about. It’s a simple psychological trick, but it really works.
So now hopefully you understand the impact of sleep on you and your business. It’s not hyperbole to say that if you can establish this one habit, it will have an enormous impact on your life, your business, and probably your bottom line. So get to it. And if you’ve got any tips of hints for our readers that we’ve missed, please share in the comments!