Habit 9: Sleep
You know how it feels. You wake up and aim to hit your day with energy and enthusiasm, but some days it’s a battle just to get up to the alarm or even think about your to do list and the tasks you must complete.
The urgent tasks and drains on our time affect the amount of sleep we have. The impact is from not just the sleep we lose, but the effects this loss has on our physiology and brain function.
We already know when we lose sleep, the day is harder. But do we really take to heart the impacts of losing even just a little sleep each night over time?
That extra hour of TV, or the late night preparation for the next day, is taking more of a toll on our bodies, minds and relationships than we realise.
When we answer the temptation to do a bit of paperwork before bed, or scroll our LinkedIn feed, we drag out our sleep time and this impacts how effective we are the next day.
The high cost of low sleep
Research shows, lack of sleep increases our stress and depletes our success .
In his book ‘Free to Focus’ , Michael Hyatt states a statistic that most Americans get less than 7 hours sleep per night. He states; “ we treat the pillow like an enemy of productivity, but skipping sleep ultimately hurts our work”.
In other words, we need sleep to be successful at work and in life.
I encourage you to plan your sleep and recovery so you can work less and succeed in reaching your goals, without the drain that comes from fatigue.
2 ways to overcome sleep issues to boost your work and goal achievement
- Develop the mindset that sleep and rest are part of a successful life. More sleep doesn’t equal laziness. Less sleep, coupled with excessive work, actually drains your success tank.
- Use a 3- step sleep performance strategy I suggest later in this article so you can work less and be more successful.
Sleep success habits for your best mind, body and goal achievement
Your schedule, work shifts and roles may be quite different to mine and I understand this will vary between people. For example, shift work is a harder one to plan around and messes with the body clock. This means day sleeps and recovery are crucial with a bit of self compassion added to it.
We often plan our lives and work for success, where rest is reading a good book or watching TV.
It feels like a waste of time when we take 7, 8 or 9 hours out of our packed 24 hours to sleep, but it’s worth it.
5 things I find helpful for better sleep
- Plan and write the main tasks for my day. I stick to three main daily goals.
- The evening before, prepare ahead for lunches and kids needs.
- Block time for work sessions. Time blocks work well for client notes, reports, writing, or study.
- Get out of bed at the first alarm so I have time to sit quietly with my coffee and listen to a podcast or read something relaxing. Again this may not be possible for everyone, especially if you commute or have a baby waking you. I don’t always manage this, but it’s something I aim for.
- Remind myself that sleep and recovery are not laziness, and having a plan for sleep is like any other plan for a better life.
3 benefits of a sleep performance strategy so you can work less with greater success
- Our cognitive performance is better, which allows us to complete our work in less time with more output and focus. Cognitive factors include; increased attention, better reaction time in making decisions, less work errors, and the ability to complete our work in less time with more precision.
- Mood and emotions are healthy and optimised so we are more hopeful about our goals and productive in our tasks. Mood factors include; lower perceived stress leading to better resilience to challenges, with less anxiety and depressive symptoms. For example, we are less distracted by negative emotions as we go about our day.
- We have lower physiological stress markers in our bodies. Heart rate variability can be lower and cortisol and adrenaline increase with lack of sleep. These have been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, all brought on through stress from lack of sleep.
(The above three points are taken from reference  below)
The call to live as your best self
So let’s get on with it and see sleep for what is is; just as crucial as water, air and love for building our best lives. We may last for less time without air, but chronic lack of sleep is a slow air leak for our brains, bodies and success.
the 3 step sleep performance strategy
- Review the above benefits of sleep for success and performance and integrate these into your mindset for your most successful life. Successful people need sleep. Try self compassion because this allows you to accept your basic needs for health and self respect.
- Time block your week with all tasks mapped out on a weekly layout. This would include things such as; client time, paperwork, exercise, downtime with family or hobbies, sleep time, naps if required, home jobs etc. Michael Hyatt describes this as creating your ideal week . It’s sometimes going to vary, but is a plan you aim for on most weeks.
- Practice sleep hygiene  before bed such as; short naps during the day no longer than 30 minutes, no caffeine before bed, gentle exercise during daylight and doing something relaxing before sleep that doesn’t involve too much noise, lights or backlit screens.
The study referenced throughout this article looked at the impact of 24 hour work shifts on medical residents in three domains;
- Body physiology such as hormones released and variability of heart rate
- Cognitive performance at work
They found deterioration in all three areas after just 24 hours of sleep deprivation.
With a plan for sleep, we are our best selves at work and home because we halt these negative impacts of poor sleep.
- List the three reasons sleep is crucial (cognition, mood and body)
- What is stopping you from getting at least seven hours sleep a night?
- List 3 goals you could achieve with more energy from sleep.
 Morales J, Yáñez A, Fernández-González L, Montesinos-Magraner L, Marco-Ahulló A, et al. (2019) Stress and autonomic response to sleep deprivation in medical residents: A comparative cross-sectional study. PLOS ONE 14(4): e0214858. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214858