Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

The Link Between Sleep and Effective Leadership

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Guest post by Jenn Clark

A survey revealed that out of 180 business leaders, four out of 10 do not get enough sleep at least four nights a week. If you catch yourself yawning at your desk or nodding off during meetings, you know how hard it can be to get work done when you can barely keep your eyes open. Not only does a lack of sleep cause us to feel sluggish, but it can also affect our work performance, even undermining important forms of leadership.

Sleep & Leadership

Sleep is associated with innovation and when your body is sleep deprived it is vulnerable to mental ability impairment. Sleep deprivation can also lead to job burnout, making it hard to detach from thoughts of work during non-work hours. Researchers state that “interventions to enhance sleep and recovery in occupational settings could help prevent burnout.”

However, when we get the recommended amount of sleep our bodies need each night (about 7-9 hours), our work performance improves, and our leadership skills are enhanced.

Better Relationships

When it comes to winning in the world of business, building relationships is one of the biggest components. “The key to business success is winning and keeping customers. And the key to winning and keeping customers is, and has always been, relationships.” Well-rested leaders can model positive, healthy relationships, which in the end will trickle down to their customers. By getting the sleep that your body needs to perform optimally, leaders are able to give 100 percent of themselves to their personal and professional relationships. This helps relieve stress, maintain positive mental health, and even leads to a more balanced work/home life.

Limits Procrastination

An employees’ ability to maintain attention and focus can be impaired by sleep deprivation. This can further impair an employees’ ability to make decisions as well. Combined, these factors can lead to procrastination and inhibit efficiency in the workplace. However, employees that are well rested will find it easier to stay focused on the task at hand and make sound decisions that will improve productivity.

Enhances Work Performance

Sleep is essential for workers to perform their best in every role and aspect of the workplace. Improvements in impulse control, focus, problem solving, working memory, the ability to learn and retain new information, emotion management, and other higher-level brain functions have all been linked to quality sleep. When you get the amount of sleep that your body needs, you also reduce the risk of making errors on the job as well as prevent burnout.

Here are some helpful tips on how to get better sleep.

  • Consistency is key. Try going to bed and waking up at around the same time you do on weekdays on the weekends.
  • Optimize your sleep environment. Be sure to keep your room dark, cool, and distraction free. A foam mattress is great because it leaves your body feeling cool as your sleep. Check out these options here.
  • Don’t go to bed on an empty stomach. Treat yourself to a small, carb heavy mini meal an hour or so before bed to curb your cravings.

Try the 4-7-8 method. Start by exhaling completely through your mouth. Next close your mouth and inhale through your nose for four seconds. Hold for seven seconds and then exhale for eight. Repeat until you fall asleep.

Questions: How well are you sleeping these days? Is your sleep helping or hurting your work? Please leave a comment in the space below.

Jenn Clark is a freelance writer from New York. She covers many topics ranging from the business industry to the financial spectrum. She is passionate about sleep and the role that it plays in our daily lives and health. When she’s not researching ways to catch more ZZZs, she can be found playing fetch with her three wonderful pups.


The Product Management Perspective: You need a good night’s sleep to work effectively with your teams. Evaluate your sleep patterns and take time do it right.

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