7 Little Known Ways In Which Poor Sleep Is Killing You And Your Career

By Ash Roy

August 28, 2014   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Tired huh?

Or more like exhausted?

Fact: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 30 percent, or 40.6 million, of American adults are sleeping six hours or less everyday.

Chances are you’re in that statistic.

In today’s information age sleep deprivation is an epidemic. Screens bombard you all day. Computer screens at work and home, screens in building foyers, bus stands, and of course the one that sits cozily in your pocket.

Oh, and that cute little smartphone often accompanies you to bed!

You furiously work late into the night, trying to get that extra little bit done.

Sometimes, it’s that addictive ping from the smartphone alerting you to yet another email. At other times, it’s a document you’ve got to finish reviewing for the 8am meeting tomorrow.

There’s always something.

And you say to yourself “Just one more hour and I’ll get this done. I can get by on 6 hours sleep tonight”.

The next day it’s the same story.

You think if you forego a couple of hours of sleep, and squeeze in some more screen time, you’ll be that much further forward the next day.

In reality, nothing’s further from the truth.

Here are 7 ways lack of sleep is killing your productivity and health.

1. How Your Sleep Deprivation Is Playing Russian Roulette with Your Brain.

If you don’t get adequate sleep, your brain accumulates toxins. The only way to flush out the toxins, and reset your brain, is to get enough sleep.

Melanie Pinola from lifehacker.com has shown how sleep detoxifies the brain of waste materials.

Without those 7 hours of sleep, your brain can’t do the ‘housecleaning’ necessary to ‘reset’ for the next day.

Not having adequate rest means your brain starts the next day with a sleep deficit.

And this means you accumulate toxins in your brain – some of which have even been linked to Alzheimer’s.

That’s like playing Russian Roulette with your brain.

2. What Improper Sleep Does To Your Circadian Rhythms.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re blowing your Circadian rhythms — your body clock — which is essential to keep you in sync with your environment.

The Wall Street Journal reports that our body clock can pinpoint different times in the day when most of us perform our best tasks.

Mess with your your body clock, and you screw up your energy levels.

This means, you’re going to be about as productive as a worm in a tequila bottle!

Staying up past midnight, also upsets your circadian rhythms, which leads to all sorts of chronic sleep problems.

3. Could Your Poor Sleep Habits Suddenly Become Deadly?

Sleeping less than 6 hours increases your risk of getting a stroke or heart disease.

Professor Franscesco Cappuccio — who has authored articles on sleep and their effects on health — says:

If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying from a stroke. The trend for late nights and early mornings is actually a ticking time bomb for our health so you need to act now to reduce your risk of developing these life-threatening conditions.

Sounds pretty scary when they put it so bluntly huh?

Well, you can do something about that.

You don’t have to make the changes overnight. Gradual changes tend to be more successful in the long term.

It really is a matter of making better choices.

It might mean you choose to focus on fewer things to do for the day. Accept that you can’t do everything. Get selective about your tasks based on your priorities.

After all, what’s more important to you, checking your email for the 100th time, or not dying from a stroke before you’re 50?

Your call.

4. How Poor Sleep Affects Your Productivity, Concentration And Focus.

Tony Schwartz has worked with thousands of executives. He explains that a full nights sleep has a greater and faster impact on mood, focus and productivity than anything else.

In his article in the New York Times titled “Relax, You’ll be more productive”, Tony Schwartz talks about how we’re moving into a 24 X 7 economy. The market seems to be grounded in a misguided assumption that our resources are infinite.

The truth is sleep deprivation pulverizes your concentration and productivity.

According to a 2008 National Sleep Foundation study, almost a third of American employees said sleepiness affected their daily activities for a few days each month.

Americans who work longer, have lower productivity and have difficulty concentrating.

Dr Meir Kryger, Prof of medicine at University of Manitoba in Winnipeg Canada says people who don’t sleep well exhibit symptoms including:
• Nodding off at meetings
• Sleepiness while driving
• Lapses in memory
• Difficulty with concentration
• Poor performance and
• Mood changes

If you want to get more done, you need to focus on a smaller range of tasks, and train yourself to take frequent and effective breaks.

Learning the art of restoration is one of the keys to better productivity.

Managing your energy is far more important than managing your time. Energy and time both finite, but unlike time, energy is renewable.

Will you consider changing your productivity strategy from time management to energy management for one month?

I think you’ll be impressed with the results.

5. What Inadequate Sleep Does To Your Creativity and Problem Solving Skills.

Neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to form new connections and neural pathways. The more plastic your brain is, the more you’re able to form creative or inspirational thoughts.

New brain cells and neural pathways are created during sleep. The brain literally changes overnight, as your neural networks are reorganized during sleep.

Sleep also assists the brain in flagging unrelated ideas and memories. And this flagging increases the odds that a creative insight will surface.

In recognition of this, Google has installed EnergyPods — leather recliners with egglike hoods that block noise and light — to allow employees to take naps at work.

Cisco and Procter & Gamble have followed suit.

It really boils down to one very simple fact: More sleep = more creative breakthroughs and innovative solutions to problems.

Want to find innovative and groundbreaking solutions at work?

Sleep more!

6. What Lack Of Sleep Does To Your Metabolism, Your Immunity, And Your Health.

Having adequate periods of sleep (lowered metabolism) is essential to our recovery process.

Research shows that animals deprived entirely of sleep lose all immune function and die in just a matter of weeks.

Muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis and grown hormone release mostly occur during sleep. And in some cases, exclusively so.

Here’s the rub: If you don’t get enough sleep you’re not going to get the downtime you need to recover fully before the next day.

You’re going to drag yourself around like a zombie all day, guzzling cups of coffee late into the evening, to stay awake. And those evening coffees will affect your quality of sleep through the night.

In the process, you’ll gradually damage your metabolism, your hormonal balance, and your general health.

7. Is Sleep Deprivation Causing You To Make Mistakes?

A study conducted by Yvonne Harrison and James A Horne of Longborugh University, shows that sleep deprivation affects decision-making around unexpected situations, competing distractions, innovation, and effective communication.

The thing is, we all need to make decisions quickly, in an environment where distractions are as inevitable as they are constant.

Plus, we have to be innovative, and deal with the unexpected, thanks to the wonders of fast moving, disruptive technologies.

And as if that wasn’t enough, we have to then communicate these decisions effectively, so that we can be heard over a whole lot of ‘cyber noise’.

Think you can do all that on a bad nights sleep?

Here’s the thing : If you can’t get enough sleep you’re going to make bad decisions, and you’re going to make mistakes.

The decision’s yours. What will you choose?

Do you want to make meaningful contributions to the world?

You can.

Do you want to give it your absolute best, and make each day count?

You can.

It all starts with one simple decision – to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

The truth is, if you’re sleep deprived you’re going to have a much smaller impact than you will if you’re fully rested.

But if you get enough sleep each night?

The world’s your oyster.

Sure, it won’t be like waving a magic wand and achieving every dream you’ve ever had. But you’ll be a helluva lot more productive and far more likely to get to where you want to go.

If there’s one thing you need to take away from this post, it’s this: A healthy sleep habit is one of the biggest secrets to a happy and productive life.

And, it all comes down to making one conscious choice: Make your sleep a priority.

Will you make that choice today?

Ash Roy

Ash is a freelance writer and blogger. As a former finance professional, he teaches busy people how to save time at http://www.worksmartlivebetter.com</a

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