sleep deprivation effects - productivity in the workplace

Is Your Executive Team Getting the Right Amount of Sleep?

There’s a new wave sweeping silicon valley right now, and it’s probably going to change the way you look at your employee’s sleep schedules. That’s right, we are in the midst of a sleep revolution. From Apple, to Facebook, to Google, everyone is realizing that the most important thing you can do for your employees is to make sure that they’re well-rested and ready to start the day. It’s time to take the stigma out of sleep, no longer should it be viewed as a luxury to be enjoyed on the weekends, sleep is now seen as a vital component to an energized and empowered workforce.

We’ve come up with this handy guide to see if your team of executives is getting the right amount of sleep, and if not, what you can do to flip the narrative. Don’t be caught up in the old ways of doing business, take your problems to sleep

They Probably Need More Sleep Than They Think

The first thing to know is people typically underestimate the amount of sleep they need. In a nationwide survey, researchers found that over half the population thought they needed six hours of sleep or less a night to be able to properly function. While this can be true in some rare cases, short sleepers actually represent less than ten percent of the total population. This could be why the US workforce is in a purported “sleep crises” with over 70 million Americans experiencing sleep deprivation this year.

If your team is spending a lot of late nights managing projects, then they could be experiencing sleep debt. This not only inhibits their ability to make good decisions, it could also hurt their ability to communicate, empathize, and even self analyze — all vital characteristics of any leadership role. Offering flexible start times is a good way to make sure that your team is getting the rest they need while still putting in the late hours sometimes required to get a project in on time.

Sleep Makes Solid Decisions

There’s a reason that Bill Gates and Tim Cook are proud members of the eight hours of sleep a night club, it leads to good decision making. Sleep scientists have dubbed this, “the executive skills” and have found that they only function correctly when we have at least seven hours of sleep a night. This has to do with the functionality of the neocortex, a part of the brain associated with higher cognitive function. While other parts of the brain may be able to function on less sleep, the neocortex requires a full night’s sleep to process information. Less than that, and you run the risk of having delayed (and poor) decisions from people in your top spots.

This one is easy to test for, if you have someone who seems irritable, out of sorts, and just generally anxious about future decisions, it’s almost a sure bet that they’re suffering from some sort of sleep debt. Let your team know that health and wellness always come first. It’s important to create a sleep friendly environment. For some companies that means having flexible starts, for other places (Apple, Facebook) that can mean even creating a designated space for napping. This can have the side benefit of actually increasing productivity, as unconscious decision making is a real phenomenon that many emerging tech companies are mining.

So if your team is feeling stagnant in the new year, try changing your sleep policies. It could be just the thing to jump start something fresh and new. The best ideas come from a refreshed and revitalized mind. That can only happen on a full night’s sleep.

 

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