It has become a cliché to start a personal productivity article with the words “Everyone has 24 hours a day.” Beyond time, however, there is also another resource that affects your productivity and of which you also have finite resources. I’m talking about ENERGY. We all have limited reserves of energy that we can draw upon each day. Some have more than others. Others can trick their body into waking up when they’d rather go back to sleep by drinking coffee. Drinking coffee (or worse, energy drinks) on a regular basis will only provide temporary relief.
If you want better productivity, you will have to make time to sleep. There is no shortcut around this. Many people seem to think they are losing out on only just a few hours of sleep. However, research has shown:
- Trying to stay awake when feeling drowsy takes a lot of mental energy. This reduces the amount of energy you have to focus on tasks that require concentration.
- Working on less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep can make you anxious and irritable. This makes you prone to overreacting, especially in stressful situations (Boss who hasn’t slept shouting at the Secretary that put in an extra sugar in his coffee). Over time this could also increase your risk of depression and mental health illness.
- Sleep deprivation increases reaction time. Reaction time is the time it takes for you to process an input of information and respond accordingly. In careers such as healthcare and professional drivers, the difference between life and death can be just a few seconds. Your lack of sleep may be putting yourself and others at risk.
Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during much of World War 2 was famous for taking afternoon naps. His Staff reported it was a non-negotiable part of his routine. Every day, after lunch, Churchill would retire to bed for an hour or two. During that time. It didn’t matter who needed to see him, the Prime Minister was unavailable. Not many of us have to deal with crises such as Governing an Empire during wartime. If the Prime Minister of Britain during the world war could find time for a nap each day, who are you to deny your body more each night?