What do sleep and productivity have to with each other? Well if you ask Arianna Huffington the two are significantly connected and crucial to each other. Arianna tells us a story about the defining moment in her life that led her onto a path of sleep research and discovery.
My 3 key takeaways on Arianna Huffington’s Ted Talk “How to succeed? Get more sleep”
1. Learn to value sleep before you are faced with symptoms of exhaustion
What kicked off Arianna’s research into sleep discovery is an episode of sleep deprivation and exhaustion that caused her to faint and hit her head on her desk breaking her cheekbone and causing her to require 5 stitches on her right eye. Ouch! This incident gave Arianna have a new found appreciation for the value of sleep. How many of us can relate to overworking ourselves till the point our body wont take it any more?
I need to heed Arianna’s advice. I have had episodes of exhaustion before. I don’t sleep enough. I previously spent years working the grave yard shift and this messes up your internal sleep clock big time. Over the years my brain has become wired to be more active in the early hours of the morning and sometimes this works for me, but the lack of sleep usually ends up catching up with me and I have an involuntary sleep marathon which usually makes me feel groggy when I wake up anyway. It’s a vicious cycle!
2. Sleep deprivation is not a badge of honour
Arianna shares a funny story about how she had dinner with a man who bragged that he had only had 4 hours of sleep the night before. Arianna felt like telling him maybe if he had of had 5 hours sleep he would have been more interesting. We have all heard other people boast about how they had a big night the previous day and are only functioning on X amount of sleep. They are looking for pats on backs and high-fives and maybe even want us to be a little envious.
I am actually not really comfortable with people knowing how messed up my sleeping pattern is. I don’t wear it as a badge of honour and If I do disclose how little sleep I have gotten the night before, it is usually to explain why my body is there but my brain hasn’t caught up! I usually try and hide my lack of sleep. I used to respond to all my emails in the early hours of the morning, but got sick and tired of reading email replies that usually started with ‘why were you up at 2am?!’ For this reason I generally no longer answer emails past 9pm or post on social media past 11pm.
3. Getting enough sleep will boost your productivity
Arianna uses the metaphor that leaders need to be able to see the iceberg before it hits the Titanic and having a high IQ is irrelevant if your mind and body have not been adequately replenished with enough sleep. In my own life I am finding this to be true. Time for my cringe-worthy metaphor. I try to think of my brain as my computer, my hard drive. When I am sleep deprived my brain is like my unorganized cluttered hard-drive. There are files and files of documents called Untitled 1.doc Untitled 2. doc ….Untitled 327.doc they are not filed in digital folders but scattered in each and every folder and drive making it impossible for me to find a file ‘an idea’ when I need them. It’s overwhelming and frustrating!
When I have enough sleep my brain is like my organized hard-drive. All my documents have relevant and easily identifiable titles and have been properly filed into project folders. It takes virtually no time at all to find any file that I am looking for. It’s stress-free and calming. Okay so that was a cringe worthy metaphor and not at all eloquent like Ariannas, but it has been helping me to understand why I need better quality sleep. I find having a metaphor about why I need to disconnect at the end of the day and get enough sleep is really starting to help me shut-down each night and prioritize my need for recharging. I am thinking of switching to Arianna’s iceberg metaphor though – less cringeworthy than my hardrive metaphor!
Today’s action step
I want to thank Arianna for the wake-up call and reminder that I need to value my sleep better. Today I am going to do something I have never done before. I am actually going to record the number of hours I sleep each night. Now I know that there are apps that do this, but I really don’t want to have to put a mobile phone on my bed all night. Instead I have created a printable worksheet to record the amount of hours I sleep each night and how I felt that day. Feel free to print and share the worksheet.
Do you get enough sleep? Do you sleep too much? How does this affect your productivity during the day? Share you stories n the comments below.