Have you ever wondered how your sleep impacts your performance at work?

Sleep impacts every aspect of our lives and has a ripple effect that involves our families and our work. We don’t live in a bubble, and when we lose sleep or we get poor sleep it takes a toll on our bodies, our minds and our health plus those around us. It’s why I’ve spent years not only educating and improving individuals’ sleep but also working with companies to help lessen the impact poor sleep has on their employees and the bottom line. When companies reach out to me they ask me to help them:

  • Identify sleepy employees.
  • Calculate the cost of sleep related issues in a company:
  • Evaluate executives’ sleep and provide personalized protocols for everything from bedtime routines, to how to deal with jetlag.
  • Institute a “Better Sleep” program for entire companies, based on their employees’ chronotypes.

I read a lot about this subject as a result and there were three articles this past week I found fascinating along the lines of sleep, performance and business.

Sleep Helps Us Evaluate New Ideas More Accurately!

Innovation is the hallmark of US companies. If we pursued every idea though, we’d spend billions on “bad” ideas. Focusing our efforts on the ideas worth pursuing isn’t always as easy as sounds, and believe it or not, sleep plays an important role according to a recent study. It’snot just important for identifying a good business idea, but also in its evaluation and belief that it’s viable.

For entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies, there is a pervasive belief that sleep will come later…after you’ve reached a certain level of success, but research is coming out that’s proving that mindset may be more harmful than helpful.

“Entrepreneurs who consistently choose hustle over sleep, thinking that sleep comes after success, may be subverting their efforts to succeed…Everyone needs a good night of sleep, but it is especially important for entrepreneurs.”

The study, published in Journal of Business Venturing in late July, reviewed data on 700 Entrepreneurs. They asked about sleep patterns, hours of sleep, and types of sleep. Next, business pitches were drafted, then an independent panel of business experts reviewed and ranked the pitches as having the most, medium, and least potential for success. Participants would review the pitches that day. They found that Leaders who had less sleep consistently didn’t pick the best pitches.

In a second part of the study, a smaller group of participants looked at pitches over several weeks, while charting their sleep patterns. People who had at least 7 hours of sleep, each night, consistently selected the best pitches (identified by the expert panel), and those with less sleep picked the worst pitches.

“The evidence suggests that less sleep leads to less accurate beliefs about the commercial potential of a new venture idea,” Gish says. “Since we compared individual performance over multiple days, we can say that these results are consistent even for entrepreneurs who don’t sleep as much on average as the general population.”

Dr. Jeff Gish, was kind enough to send me the study and I will be doing a full blog on his results, and hopefully, an interview.

If you want to learn more about the things an Entrepreneur can do to sleep better, check out my blog 3 Things Entrepreneurs Must Know to Sleep Better.

Many Fortune 100 Companies are NOT Sleeping!

An interesting article in Sleep Review this week reported on a survey of the sleep at Fortune 100 companies. A sleep app company, dayzz, performed the survey and released these data:

One question asked employees to report if they get 5.5 hours or less of sleep per night. According to their responses, a significant percentage of employees at Fortune 100 companies are getting far below the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep adults need to perform well.

Here are a few of the companies and the percentage of employees who are 5.5 hours or less of sleep a night:

  • 61% at Chevron
  • 45% at GM (General Motors)
  • 40% at ExxonMobil
  • 37% at Caterpillar
  • 34% at Apple
  • 34% at Amazon
  • 34% at GE (General Electric)

Employees across all three sectors (high-tech, finance, and shift based companies) report that they don’t perform optimally an average of 2 days per week due to poor sleep quality, and estimate that they put themselves and other drivers at risk an average of 3 days per week because they drive while drowsy.

  • 77% of employees at GM feel they incur risk 5-7 days per week
  • 38% at GE
  • 34% at Apple
  • 26% at ExxonMobil

Based on the results of the survey, dayzz (the app company) created a Sleep Score, giving each company a “grade” between 4-100 based on their employees’ average sleep time, average sleep loss, amount of quality sleep and non-quality sleep due to work-related matters. The companies that ranked the best were Wells Fargo (92), Cisco (91), IBM (87), Facebook (83), and Dell (79), while the five lowest ranking companies were ExxonMobil (29), Amazon (24), GE (19), Intel (13), and GM (5).

There is clear data to show that when people are sleeping less than 6 hours, over 2 weeks, it’s like them being awake for almost 48 hours! Think of all the potential risks and performance-related issues created that can negatively affect you, your co-workers or your boss!

NAPS are Back! Even at Work

Let’s be honest, did you ever think that it would be “OK” to take a nap at work? Naps ended in Kindergarten. Culturally it’s not something we’ve supported, especially in the workplace. I mean really, what if your boss sees you? What if your co-workers tease you, or worse, use that time to get promoted over you? We imagine that sleeping on the job is the sign of a slacker or a poor employee, but an article in the Houston Chronicle shows another side to this tale.

In 2017, Zappos added nap rooms to their company. Why? In 2010 CEO Tony Hsieh told NPR “It’s been proven that a 20-minute nap makes people more effective during the day.”  Who knew? Well, maybe our Kindergarten selves knew.

As reported in the Chronicle:

In 1995, a seminal NASA study conducted on pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent. Since then, Sara Mednick, an associate professor of cognitive sciences at the University of California, Irvine, is one of many sleep researchers who have demonstrated that naps improve our memories, make us more creative and less anxious, prevent mistakes and help us retain more of what we learn.

I personally love Sara’s book “Take A Nap”. It has personally helped me tremendously.

Along with Zappos, a few other forward-thinking companies, including Google, Uber, Cisco and Ben & Jerry’s, have introduced nap rooms, using MetroNaps’ EnergyPods, futuristic recliners-with-helmets that lean employees back into a “zero-gravity position” and lull them with “specially composed sleep music [and a] gentle wake sequence of programmed lights and vibrations.”

Dr. Brues in MetroNaps EnergyPods Discussing How Sleep Impacts Performance At Work

If this picture looks familiar, you’ve seen it before. I shared it when I reported back about a wellness lecture I gave at Turnburry Holdings during their awesome Sleep and Wellness Day!

The Chronicle also reported:

Still, nap rooms are rare: Only about six percent of U.S. employers provide one. The National Sleep Foundation did report in 2011 that a survey of 600 employers found that 34 percent of respondents said they are allowed occasional naps at work. That’s a sign that companies are starting to understand that their workers have lives and needs, but it’s not so straightforward. It’s hard to imagine a low-wage, hourly worker such as an Uber driver pulling over at a nap room when there are riders to pick up, shareholders to please and bills to be paid.

Are you interested in improving your own sleep? Check out my article on How to find an effective Sleep Coach.

Here is an article that included my advice I thought you might enjoy.

If You Ate Most Productive During These Hours You May Be An Advanced Sleeper – TheLadders.com

Sweet Dreams,
Dr. Breus

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