On a large level, sleep deprivation is costing companies millions of dollars. In fact, fatigue workers are one of the biggest drainers to a company's bottom line and an obstacle to creating a bigger impact in the world.
On an individual level, sleep deprivation is an issue as well. The average person is sleeping around 90 minutes less than they did 100 years ago. With all of this said, Fitbit started tracking users' (no names attached) sleep stages in March 2017 and ended up with 6 billion nights of sleep for data, which is the biggest set of sleep data ever assembled.
The biggest takeaway among all of their data was that you should consistently go to sleep around the same time.
Going to sleep around the same time on a consistent basis is important to avoid social jet lag. An example could be someone who goes to sleep at 11 p.m. on weeknights and wakes up at 7 a.m. But on the weekends, they stay out and don't fall asleep until 2:30 a.m. and wake up around 10 a.m.
This affects not only your body but also your performance at work, because you're getting less sleep due to your normal rhythm and routine times of falling asleep being off.
The alarm clock is going to ring early morning regardless. One to two hours daily of lost sleep quietly builds up your sleep debt, which affects these two critical areas in your professional world.
1. Decreased cognitive performance.
When you're not fully refueling through sleep, your mental abilities decline, despite how you might feel. In this study, after two weeks of sleeping six hours per night, the subjects' mental abilities were similar to someone not sleeping at all for one night.
If you drop that number down to four hours per night, it only takes one week to experience the same level of decreased performance.
Sleeping in later on the weekends won't completely make up for your lack of sleep during the week. When it comes to improving your sleep on a consistent basis, it starts with improving your behaviors.
My favorite unconventional idea is to set an alarm for when it's time to go to sleep. Set the alarm 60-90 minutes from your desired bedtime and when it goes off, take it as a signal to stop using your smartphone and put aside your work tasks.
And lastly, journal and write your to-do list for tomorrow before calling it a night to ease any anxiousness you might have about tomorrow.
2. Decreased leadership abilities.
As a leader, you're expected to be charismatic so you can inspire, make sound decisions that further advance your team and company, and function as an expert problem solver.
With numerous distractions and social engagements, the temptation for late nights is ever-so-present. With that said, I'm not a robot and I'm sure you're not one either. We all want to see our friends and unwind from the workweek.
Instead of being ultra rigid and making it a must, stay within a one- or two-hour window of your sleep time and do not sleep in, because that will most likely make it harder to fall asleep the next night due to being off your schedule. If you are trying to improve your sleep debt, opt to go to sleep earlier instead of sleeping in.