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How successful CEOs get barely any sleep and why we should not glorify sleep deprivation

18-02-2014

How successful CEOs get barely any sleep and why we should not glorify sleep deprivation

In the cutthroat world of business being a hard worker who goes hard is widely admired. If you want to rise through the ranks then you will often need to put in long hours at the desk. Many ambitious people will find that there is an expectation that they will sacrifice their social life and their sleep for their career. There are always stories being told of successful CEOs who barely sleep, people who live at their desk and work almost all day almost every day of the year. While this may seem like the path to success, the reality is that we should not be glorifying sleep deprivation nor forcing people to emulate these sleep deprived success stories because sleep deprivation can not only negatively impact your career but can also damage your health. 

Part of the problem is that for a long time there has been much confusion about how much sleep we need to get. There were more myths than truths and this led to a huge range of behaviours being lionised when we now know that they are not only unhealthy but also downright dangerous.  We now know that sleep deprivation is not only an immediate inconvenience but can also pose a huge range of problems that can affect your career and put your life at risk.

Sleeping deprivation impacts your memory.
Sleep plays a vital role in memory retention and recall. It has been shown that people who are sleep deprived struggle to recall events and facts from the day before because they have missed out on a vital component of sleep the night before.

Sleep deprivation limits cognition.
People who have not slept enough not only struggle with memory but their cognitive capacities are also impacted. Tests have shown that people who are sleep deprived score lower on a range of cognitive tests than they do when they have slept well.

Sleep deprivation can lead to a greater appetite.
Your appetite is regulated by the relative levels of two hormones in your blood, leptin and ghrelin. These hormones are rebalanced as you sleep and if you do not get enough sleep you will not only have a larger appetite but you will also find that you crave more junk food.

Sleep deprivation plays havoc with emotions.
It turns out that sleep plays a role in our moods and emotions. Lack of sleep can not only mean that you are in a worse mood but can also exacerbate clinical depression. A study of 10 000 people found that those with insomnia were five times as likely to suffer from depression as those who were sleeping a healthy amount each night.

While sacrificing sleep for your career may seem like a smart move, the reality is that sleep deprivation has a number of serious impacts on your body and mind. The reality is that you will perform better at your job if you are well slept and you will be happy and healthy too.


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