Are you getting enough?

Are you getting enough? Sleep that is… Getting sufficient sleep is one of the most effective ways to increase your leadership capacity. And it’s free!

At the recent NeuroLeadership Summit in Sydney, Dr Jessica Payne (Director of Sleep, Stress & Memory Lab at the University of Notre Dame)  presented on ‘Leadership Stamina’. Jessica’s research focuses on how sleep and stress influence human memory and psychological function.

I found the sleep aspect of her presentation confronting! My youngest daughter is 4 and still wakes up at least once in the night, so for 4 years I have been operating on insufficient sleep. (Luckily I love my work and that energises me.)

So here’s what frightened me:

  • Poor or insufficient sleep causes release of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in impaired cognition and emotional regulation.
  • When you are sleep deprived, you are more likely to remember negative information, and less likely to remember positive or neutral information.
  • Alcohol changes your sleep architecture and you loose valuable REM sleep. (Hmmm – this explains a lot.)
  • Talking about alcohol, if you are highly sleep deprived, you might as well be drunk at work when you consider the impact on your effectiveness. In fact, sleep deprivation can more lethal than food deprivation!

In the past few years, as I have juggled work and family (two girls aged 4 and 7), I have sacrificed sleep to fit it all in. No longer! Now I know that while I am sleeping I am doing the critical work of:

  • Consolidating memories and integrating what I have learned ready for access when I need it.
  • Allowing my brain to integrate ideas and concepts in novel ways, resulting in new insights.
  • Deactivating my Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortext! (In simple terms – resting the Executive Centre of my brain, ready for the next day.)

Jessica recommends committing to 20 minutes extra sleep daily to generate enhanced cognitive processing, emotional regulation and general performance. This could be extra sleep at night, or a 20-minute power nap in the middle of the day.

20 minutes extra sleep for enhanced leadership performance! Are you up for it? Love to hear your thoughts below
Have an Extraordinary day