How getting more sleep can help you be more successful

There are of course many factors that play into what makes a business leader successful, but I bet you never thought that sleep was one of them.

For many, especially when they are first starting a business, they give it all that they’ve got, putting in a lot of long hours and refusing to take sufficient holidays; however, as it turns out, taking the time to wind down and relax, or at least prioritising sleep, can have a greater effect on professional success.

How successful people sleep

A recent study done through John Hopkins University also notes that the most beneficial sleep pattern that leads to wellbeing, performance, and success is not necessarily long hours of slumber, but uninterrupted sleep. During their study, they woke a group often, but allowed them to sleep longer, while a second group was allowed to sleep for a shorter, uninterrupted period, and then woken up.

The group that slept uninterrupted showed better ability to function and improved mood over the longer, interrupted sleeping group. It is still recommended for most adults to aim for at least seven hours a night; however, this list of highly-successful people and their sleep patterns shows more of a coalition to consistent, uninterrupted sleep.

These longer but interrupted sleep sessions are often caused by poor routine and sleep environment, particularly when sleeping on a poor quality mattress. Mattresses that are old and unsupportive can cut off circulation at the pressure points where the body touches the mattress, causing a person to turn in their sleep to restore circulation; this stirring causes the sleeper to awaken. Making sure that your mattress isn’t too old and is one that uses modern and good quality materials can help in improving your sleep quality. Taking a look at what is available online should be your first port of call if you are serious about getting better slumber.

Why successful people prioritise sleep

Learning and retention

In order to be successful in anything in life, whether that’s school, your career, or even personal relationships, the key to success is continued growth and an ability to learn new things. When you are tired, your ability to take in and learn new information is significantly reduced, as is your ability to consolidate memories which allow you to recall information later on. This means not only are you less able to learn new things, but you are also less able to make new memories and recall new information that you have tried to learn. Furthermore, your memory capacity in general is compromised.

Creative thinking

Being successful often depends heavily on a person’s ability to think creatively, critically, and strategically. However, if you are sleep deprived, you are less able to think creatively and generate good ideas or form solutions to problems. A study from the University of California found a link between REM sleep and improved creativity, stating that REM ‘enhances the integration of unassociated information for creative problem solving’.

Quality work with fewer errors

If you have ever driven tired, then you know that reaction time and decision-making capabilities can be significantly reduced. These same attributes, along with memory impairment, cause the quality of work to suffer when you are fatigued, usually resulting in more errors, as well as reduced motivation and attention span, all of which are counter-productive.

Immune system and mental health

And of course your health is your greatest asset. Once you are down and out and physically can’t keep going anymore, that means negative productivity and an inability to manage your business and stay on track. If you have a weakened immune system due to sleep deprivation, it will lead to more sick days and downtime from work, cutting into your productivity and performance and overall wellbeing.

In the end, when you are well rested, you have a better attention span, you feel more motivated and able to get things done, you feel physically stronger and more fit, and your mind is better suited to make new memories and information. You are also able to think more clearly, creatively, and constructively, and ultimately are able to get the job done more quickly and efficiently, with fewer errors and mistakes. So, before you think of pulling more all-nighters, thinking that you are simply too busy to slumber, think again.

Sleep deprivation doesn’t make you more productive; in fact, when you are well rested you can perform better, both physically and mentally, and achieve your goals. So if you truly want to get more done, then resist that urge to sleep less.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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