How many times have you sent that update to your boss at 12 midnight? How many times have you pulled an all-nighter to complete a critical activity? Almost all of us have done this at some point in our career. Even if we did not have such deadlines, we have taken pride in the all night parties where we returned home bleary eyed. I still remember these adventures in my early part of the career. We have had days we partied all night and returned home just in time the news paper was getting delivered. So, one question that most of us have in our mind is – Why do we waste time in sleeping. If only I could manage my sleep better, I can squeeze more hours into my day! If you have not experienced this, you may happily skip this post and perhaps go to sleep!
AWED AT SUPER PRODUCTIVE BOSSES
I have always felt super impressed with the bosses who used to send Emails in the wee hours of the night and conduct reviews late into the night peppered with after parties. This almost gives them a badge of honor. You’d have read about business leaders who sleep 4 hours and how they plan their day so effectively and grew businesses into multi-billion dollar levels. Boy, these behaviors do put a lot of pressure on people to emulate. Well, managing to stay awake has been ingrained right from our young ages, remember the time we have studied all night for that organic chemistry exam! Always the classmate who tops the class is looked up and all of us lesser mortals wondered if only we could stay awake!
WHY DO WE SLEEP
Basically sleep is a life hack developed by living beings as a part of evolution. The body follows something called a Circadian Rhythm that induces hormonal changes and drives the requirement to sleep. Suppressing the same over a long run is found to have significant impact on Physical, Mental and Emotional health. So, leaving the complex science behind it, we simply sleep so that the body and brain go through a sequence of clean-up activities that make us ready for the next day. Now, it is important to differentiate between time in bed and time slept. It is recommended that a healthy adult sleeps for at least 7-8 hours! No, catching up on sleep during weekends and increasing the average doesn’t count.
Recently met someone who had lost his dad in a traumatic accident. It was quite heart wrenching to learn that his dad was travelling in a bus and the driver dozed off, plunging the bus into a gorge and about 30 people died. According to a research almost 50% of fatal accidents are caused by drowsy drivers.
EVERYBODY SLEEPS, WHATS THE BIG DEAL
Yes, it is a simple life hack and probably that’s why none of us really worry or talk about it. But astonishingly, this is an epidemic growing at a fast pace across the world. According to scientific studies, almost half of the world population is facing some form of sleep challenges. Thanks to new technologies and the modern lifestyle, the average sleep duration has come down by about 20%. Yes, every body sleeps, but sleeps lesser than earlier. World Health Organization has identified this as one of the key priority projects.
While there are studies that show about 20% economic impact just due to lack of sleep, there are also researches that are linking increased risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc. There are evidences that show continued sleep deprivation increases probability of mental ailments like Schizophrenia, Dementia, Parkinson’s, in the later years of adult life.
Further reading really provides an eye-opening realization about the fact that we have been idolizing the wrong behavior all the while!
HEY, ARE YOU A COOL BOSS AT OFFICE
There are research findings linking leadership effectiveness’ direct correlation to quality of sleep. Bosses who consistently have insufficient sleep are found to be less likeable, short tempered and have poorer inter-personal relationships. It is also found that insufficient sleep hampers decision making capabilities of leaders. Now, imagine how many times you have felt irritable at a meeting or quipped at someone during a concall. Try to see if there has been a lack of sleep and a possible cause. While there could be idiots in offices who still may make you irritable, as long as it is not due to lack of sleep it should be ok. Now, if you want to be the cool boss, try sleeping sufficiently and then dealing with people. I personally tried and it did feel better. I don’t know if it is placebo effect, as long as it works I’m happy!
I feel there is a pressing need to imbibe sleep wellness as one of the critical initiatives in corporates and especially as a leadership priority.
ARE WE PUTTING OUR CHILDREN AT RISK
Just compare the time at which you, as a child used to go to sleep vs your child presently. I distinctly remember as a child, 9PM was as strict curfew, but nowadays I see kids watching TV or playing on devices till around 11. Adding to the woes are the awkward school timings and other extra activities that children are exposed to. I have observed two subjects commonly discussed near the coffee machine – Traffic woes and binge watching Netflix late into the night. How many times some of your friends have told you that they have had trouble sleeping?
I feel we should take the step in setting examples in sleep wellness. Start with setting house rules about time to go to bed. I know in the metro lifestyle some of these are quite tough and it takes a lot of effort, but the effort is really worth it. Even discussing trivial details with family and children about the events of the day or reading a book helps in unwinding and increase the quality of family time and of course sleep.
I sincerely urge you to start monitoring the end of day routine (EOD J) of your family and especially your children to ensure a healthy adulthood for them. Ignoring this may cause dearly during growing up years of our children!
OK, ARE THERE SOME SIMPLE HACKS
I have come across some simple hacks that enhance the sleep wellness:
Can I take a swig – it is a common myth that a couple of drinks help sleeplessness. While it may feel comfortable, research has proven that alcohol doesn’t really help you to sleep. It numbs the brain functions and when the effects of alcohol wears away, your brain is back being active. Though you may have gone to bed after a couple of drinks, quite often you may have experienced a sudden state of wakefulness at around 3-4 AM.
I can’t put away my ipad – I know you want to engage on social media after the day’s hard work, but the screen exposure has proven significant impact on sleep effectiveness. So please put away that Ipad
Would like to catch up on my favorite Netflix series – we all have that urge and that’s how Netflix thrives. I know Breaking Bad is good, but better if you break the bad habit of late night binge watching.
Yuck, books make me sleep – precisely. Just remember the time you used to read that quantum mechanics book and you instantly started sleeping. That’s what books do. You start reading something at bedtime and see how you sleep like a baby!
I know there are various things that give you sleepless nights – your investment, family commitments, work pressure, etc. Be conscious of your sleep patterns and even if it helps, do maintain a sleep journal. Start early and sleep well!
Leave your thoughts below in the comments section!
Why We Sleep by Mathew Walker
World Health Organization –https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/64100/WHO_MSA_MND_98.3.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
National Health Portal of India