Business leaders have spoke out about the importance of sleep
in a series of interviews conducted by Financial Times.
Simon Johnson, an academic, highlighted that there is an
anti-sleep culture within the business stratosphere. Many
professionals will claim that they can work like Maggie Thatcher,
grabbing naps here and there and consistently maintaining the
minimum amount of sleep required day-in-day-out.
However, this bullish attitude is largely a façade, and many
workers will be suffering from the fact that they don't allow
themselves enough time to sleep at night. As Mr Johnson puts it:
"If sleep were really so unimportant, why do successful people pay
high prices for seats that go flat on long-haul flights? Even if
they are paying with someone else's money, they have a lot of
discretion over how to use it and if they really did not care about
sleep, airlines would have figured that out."
Most successful entrepreneurs don't need to be encouraged to get
enough sleep. Those that are well educated in the way the brain and
the body works will already know that eight-hour patterns of
consistent sleep will lead to better productivity during the
day. However, there is still a big group of professionals
that subscribe to this 'no-sleep' culture.
Jonathan Straight, an entrepreneur, is one such individual. His
main challenge is juggling his personal life, his family life, his
work life and his sleep life. Because he has a family, a lot of the
work he does at home has to be after the children are in bed. This means working from 9pm onwards,
which can seriously intervene with keeping regular and early sleep
Mr Straight told the FT: "I have a sales director who claims he
needs a full eight hours of sleep. If I needed that much, I would
have to be in bed by 9.30pm." This means that the entrepreneur has
got into a process of gradually cutting the amount of sleep he
needs down. He said he can manage on less than six hours, and rely
on a couple of power naps through the day.
This routine is likely to lead to serious health problems, and
will not be benefiting your daily output as much as you may expect.
As sleep doctor James Maas said: "Although there are individual
differences, most people need between 7.5 and 8.5 hours of sleep
nightly to be at their best." The doctor continues to point out
that sleep is a necessity and not a luxury, which means that
getting the required amount is as important (if not more) than
hitting business deadlines.
This is reflected by Lars Björk, who is a chief executive. Mr
Björk told the FT that he was once like Jonathon Straight in that
he favoured work over sleep. He worked across different time zones
and had a demanding schedule which significantly bit into his sleep
However, the chief executive learnt that sleep wasn't something
that should be sacrificed, and therefore looked for ways to
incorporate it into his working life. He found that by delegating
more efficiently, he was able to take time out of his work load,
resulting in more time to rest and more time to sleep. Selecting a
team of employees that you can trust is essential for this. Work
often piles up when you take on things you don't trust other people
to do. But, as Mr Björk said: "there's no reason why you have to be
the only one driving the company."
This is what many entrepreneurs need to embrace sleep. There is
always room for more, and the final result can be very beneficial
to both you and your company.
Posted by Michael Ewing