Want to Be a Better Leader? Take a Nap.

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Person in bed reaching for their glasses

Remember the good old AIESEC conferences when you were so pumped for the sessions in the morning and so eager to meet new people in the evening that you would only get 4 hours of sleep in 3 days? Turns out, that’s actually bad for you.

Here are the facts 

Matthew Walker states in his Masterclass on the Science of Better Sleep and Wellness that, on the day that follows daylight savings (when we lose an hour of sleep), there is a 24% increase in heart attacks, as well as an increase in car crashes, work-related accidents, and suicides. 

Meanwhile, in November, when we gain an extra hour of sleep, there is a 21% drop in heart attacks, reduced crime, and increased time people spend exercising at the gym. 

Our bodies have an incredible capacity for healing, and when we sleep, our minds effectively cleanse themselves of unhealthy proteins. In effect, our brains “pick out the garbage” daily, and this mechanism is ten times more powerful when we sleep. This is important because it makes us more focused and helps us make better decisions.

Dog cuddled up in a bed

What is the problem?

Even with the number of facts and data available on why sleep is important to one’s health, it is strongly associated with weakness and laziness in our society. The so-called “hustle culture” has glorified working with less sleep. It is viewed as a badge of honor by many people in leadership positions.

However, the best leaders sleep enough because they know the benefits of it. Here are some of them:

Girl in bed trying to sleep

1. Sleep helps you be more solution-oriented

The ability to solve problems needs faculties such as intuition, imagination, and pattern recognition. Insights are the product of memory restructuring and consolidation. All of which require sleep. According to research, sleep loss impairs functioning memory by 40%. 

2. It helps you control your emotions.

A leader should be able to know which feelings and emotions to use for different situations. Business agreements usually need you to have a level head and be fair while being loyal to your team’s or company’s task. Sleep deficiency will seriously impair emotional balance. 

According to a report, sleep deprivation is associated with mental dysfunction and temper tantrums. The researchers discovered that individuals who slept less than the prescribed minimum of seven hours a night had more frustration episodes and overall depressive feelings.

Cat trying to sleep under a blanket

3. Sleep helps you better support others.

Sleep research provides some of the most shocking consequences for leaders in this field of assistance. What’s critical to remember is that sleep deficiency damages not just the sleep-deprived leader’s behavior but also the success of their subordinates. A single sleep-deprived chief causes the whole unit’s success to suffer.

Sleep deprivation impairs leadership capacity. Subordinates’ perceptions of the leader’s capability deteriorate. The interaction between the leader and those supervised also worsens. This results in decreased employee morale and efficiency. Both drops occur specifically as a consequence of the leader’s lack of sleep.

Girl trying to sleep in bed

4. It increases your cognitive functions.

The plenty of strategies for increased concentration won’t work when you are sleep-deprived. According to studies, remaining awake for 17-19 hours will disrupt your focus and general results to the extent of being a drunk person. This ensures that your thoughts will be sluggish and less coherent, and your result-oriented thinking will suffer.

Cat which tries to sleep with its belly up

Therefore, take your time to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Stay assured that it will help you be more solution-oriented, control your emotions, better support others, and increase your cognitive functions. The hardest lesson I learned in AIESEC while being a team leader was that you cannot lead a team without leading yourself first. Even with something as “easy” as “sleeping well.” So, tell me now, how many hours did you sleep last night? 


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