083: How to Sleep Better for Improved Leadership, Productivity, and Innovation

by Joe Sherwood on April 3, 2014

Are You Letting Sleep-Deprivation Sabotage Your Awesomeness? EngagingLeader.com. Photo courtesy of Depositphotos.com (7814223).It happened again. Jesse recently had a stretch of several weeks where sleep problems caused him to get insufficient sleep … and the effect on his creativity, productivity, and influence was obvious. It’s a common problem that pops up from time to time for many leaders, and Jesse has successfully solved it in his own life multiple times over the years. In this episode, Jesse shares why sleep is so critical for leaders (and those you lead), some of the myths about sleep, and the differing strategies that have worked for him depending on the type of sleep problem.

You’ve probably heard that drowsy driving is just a dangerous (and perhaps more common) as drunk driving. You would never show up drunk to a business meeting; but are you showing up with insufficient sleep? If so, you probably appear to other people that you have a lower level of intelligence and executive presence.

It’s a myth that you and your team gain a competitive advantage by sleeping less so you can work more. Hours worked often don’t translate into results. Especially in the knowledge economy, a sharp, clear, creative mind is worth far more than a few extra hours of daily work.

Don’t sabotage your personal impact and your leadership presence – get sufficient sleep. And as you gain influence, teach this information to your team … and allow them the flexibility and boundaries to put it into action.

Routinely getting enough sleep is a very wise investment. It pays off with benefits like these:

  • Greater mental focus (a key factor to executive presence)
  • Improved memory and judgement
  • Improved metabolism
  • Reduced calorie intake from attempts to overcome sleepiness using energy drinks, frappes, snacks, etc.
  • Fewer illnesses due to a stronger immune system
  • Reduced likelihood of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke
  • Reduce risk of anger, anxiety, and depression
  • Increased patience and graciousness with co-workers, customers, and family.

Here are 5 tips from the National Sleep Foundation that have worked for Jesse:

  • Wake up at roughly the same time every morning.
  • Follow a bedtime routine of at least 30 minutes to let your body and mind wind down.
  • Avoid screen time for at least an hour before bed.
  • Avoid other stimulating activities, such as discussing work or family problems with your spouse.
  • Avoid snacks, drinks, and especially alcohol for the last 1-3 hours before bed. You may need to start skipping caffeine even earlier, because it can take 6-8 hours for caffeine’s effects to wear off completely.

Other tips that have worked for Jesse:

  • Natural remedies: Calmes forte, Coffea, Melatonin, or Bach remedies
  • White noise app, such as White Noise Lite
  • Earplugs (they take a while to get used to, but besides drowning out sound, earplugs provide a cocoon-like experience that can help you fall asleep – and stay asleep)
  • Go to bed on empty stomach, but not too empty
  • Get enough exercise during the day
  • Avoid eating too much sugar, grains, or refined carbohydrates.

If all that fails, consider clinical help.

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