Do you ever brag about how little sleep you need or how well you handle daily stress?
Maybe you should rethink the bravado. Excess stress and sleep deprivation are more than just health concerns. They could also be silently derailing your ascent up the professional ladder. It’s a topic several LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on this week. Here’s what two of them had to say.
Travis Bradberry, president at TalentSmart
“The next time you tell yourself that you'll sleep when you're dead, realise that you're making a decision that can make that day come much sooner,” wrote Bradberry in his post Sleep Deprivation is Killing You and Your Career. “Pushing late into the night is a health and productivity killer.”
“The short-term productivity gains from skipping sleep to work are quickly washed away by the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on your mood, ability to focus and access to higher-level brain functions for days to come,” he wrote, citing a Harvard Medical School study. “The negative effects of sleep deprivation are so great that people who are drunk outperform those lacking sleep.”
There are, of course, reasons we need sufficient sleep to perform better. “New research from the University of Rochester provides the first direct evidence for why your brain cells need you to sleep,” wrote Bradberry. “The study found that when you sleep, your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you're awake. Unfortunately, your brain can remove them adequately only while you're asleep. So when you don't get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc by impairing your ability to think — something no amount of caffeine can fix,” Bradberry wrote.
“Skipping sleep impairs your brain function across the board. It slows your ability to process information and problem solve, kills your creativity, and catapults your stress levels and emotional reactivity,” he wrote.
Despite those harmful effects, many continue to get much less sleep than they need, wrote Bradberry. “A recent survey of Inc 500 CEOs found that half of them are sleeping less than six hours a night. And the problem doesn't stop at the top. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of US workers get less than six hours of sleep each night, and sleep deprivation costs US businesses more than $63b annually in lost productivity.”
Some of the side effects of not getting seven to nine hours of sleep — the amount research shows most people need to “feel sufficiently rested” — include memory lapses, impaired moral judgment, impaired immune system and higher risk of heart disease and stroke, Bradberry wrote.
Bradberry offered 10 strategies for getting better sleep. Among them: “Avoid blue light at night; wake up at the same time every day; eliminate interruptions; and learn to meditate… (Those who meditate) report that it improves the quality of their sleep and that they can get the rest they need even if they aren't able to significantly increase the number of hours they sleep.”
Bernard Marr, chief executive at Advance Performance Institute
“You may think that burning the midnight oil and staying constantly busy are good for your career — but you might be seriously damaging your career — and your health,” wrote Marr in his post Stress: The Exhilarating Killer of Your Career (and Life).
“Stress is one of the biggest killers in the developed world and… it negatively affects our careers,” he wrote. Among other things, it increases risk of heart disease by 40%, risk of heart attack by 25% and risk of stroke by 50%, he added. “Many people thrive on stress and love the buzz that comes with it, but ignore the effect it has on their physical and mental wellbeing.”
That said, most successful people are surprisingly less anxious than you might think, he wrote, “not because they don’t experience stressful situations, but because they have tools for dealing with and diffusing that stress.”
So how can you cool down and diffuse the pressure? Marr offers a number of ideas. Among them:
“Often the difference between a fun and challenging situation and a stressful one is simply understanding what’s expected of you,” he wrote. “So, the number one way to reduce job-related stress is to have a clear idea of what’s expected of you and manage those expectations.”
“If you constantly stress about work after you get home, take the time to make a firm plan of how to deal with problems before you leave the office,” Marr wrote. “That one step will help you leave work at work.”
“Automating as many tasks as possible can also help reduce stress,” he wrote. “This can also include simple daily decisions such as what to have for lunch or what to wear.”
“And if you’re working more because you’re worried about money, the research shows it’s not a good trade.” Marr cautioned. “A study showed that the increased stress and fatigue of working overtime was not offset by any increase in happiness or wellbeing that might accompany the extra income.”