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The culture of overworking in our society has left many executives and senior leaders feeling the effects of inadequate sleep and without any other options but to power through. In our 24/7 and hyper-connected world, we often try to over-achieve, striving for greater productivity, an advantage, and the latest innovation. As the hours slip away and there is seemingly not enough time in the day, something has to be sacrificed—and, all too often, it is our sleep.

Studies have found that the optimal amount of sleep for the body to perform its restorative functions, think critically, and have emotional balance is at least 7 hours. Without enough sleep, the body is unable to cycle through all five sleep stages, which can lead to decreased concentration, memory retention, problem-solving abilities, and physical performance. Let’s examine why getting more sleep should be a top priority.

Sleep and critical thinking

The science is undeniable: inadequate sleep has a direct effect on one’s critical thinking skills. When a person does not get enough restful sleep, their attention span is reduced, their reflexes become slower, and their ability to interpret situations correctly is impaired. This can lead to miscommunication, missed opportunities, and poor decision-making. The evidence is clear: a person cannot reach their full potential or reach their goals without sufficient quality sleep.

Sleep and creativity

Sleep is essential for harnessing creativity and problem-solving, as it activates memories, links brain cells, and transfers information. During REM sleep, delta waves are released that produce a state of healing and restoration, which boosts creativity. Thus, getting enough sleep is key for accessing an unlimited well of ideas.

Sleep and good relationships

For optimal performance, getting a good night’s sleep is essential. During the night, the body and brain go through a range of restorative activities, such as repairing muscles and cells. After uninterrupted sleep, you will feel recharged, energized, and ready to take on the day.

Sleep and general health

When working late nights, early mornings, and putting in that weekend overtime hours, fatigue and sleep deprivation can be the outcome. This is a gradual process comparable to the experience of burnout. The consequences can be similar, such as feeling excessively tired, having difficulty concentrating, a weakened immune system, and emotional instability.

In order to create a meaningful and lasting impact, leaders need to prioritize their health, starting with getting adequate rest. Nothing is more important for maintaining peak performance than getting enough quality sleep. Never forget: to be the best, you need to get some rest.