When Was the Last Time You Slept?
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… as well as the end of the year when soooo many things are due.
For most of us, it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. That feeling is amplified during the holidays.
What’s our usual solution? Skip lunch, work late, work weekends, and accept Zoom meetings, fourteen time zones away, in the middle of the night, at the expense of proper rest and sleep.
We compliance officers are a dedicated bunch. Commitment and reliability are part of our DNA. We show up.
But when that which makes us successful creates sleep deprivation, that tenacity can become toxic, both to our career and health.
I recently watched Matt Walker’s TED Talk, “Sleep is Your Superpower,” and I was absolutely shocked at what he had to say. And a bit terrified.
Matt’s TED Talk has been viewed more than 17 million times.
You’ve probably heard phrases like “you can sleep when you’re dead,” “rise and grind,” and “always be closing.”. Those attitudes are worn like a badge of honor, but the message may be killing both productivity and people.
Matt’s research found that a lack of sleep is destructive to:
The immune system
Long-term cognitive functioning
Lack of sleep creates short-term as well as long-term problems.
In a study cited by Walker pitting a sleep-deprived group against a well-slept group, when both were assigned to learn a new set of facts, the sleep-deprived group had a 40% deficit in remembering them.
It’s such a big problem that the World Health Organization is getting involved.
Walker noted, “the link between a lack of sleep and cancer is now so strong that the World Health Organization has classified any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen, because of a disruption of your sleep-wake rhythms.”
Why do we do this?
If we know that a lack of sleep creates poor long-term outcomes, why do we keep prioritizing work matters over proper rest? First, there’s peer pressure. When a corporate culture ignores boundaries, rewards all-nighters, and celebrates putting the company first at all costs, it can feel dangerous to buck the trend to protect yourself.
Second, many people thrive on the adrenaline that comes from procrastination. They can’t seem to get excited about a project until the deadline is looming, and they use that to fuel them through the night.
Third, some of us are people pleasers who want to make our boss happy, even if it causes us pain in our lives.
And lastly, some people are so Type A that getting things checked off the to-do list feels therapeutic. (I relate to this!) Leaving things on the list can bother these people so much that it feels easier to keep going than to stop to rest.
Instead of seeing sleep as an indulgence, think of it as a key factor in your ability to be wildly effective. A sharp mind, strong body, and long-term stamina are all career-boosting assets.
De-prioritizing sleep may lead to short-term wins but ultimately will undermine your career growth and progression. Tired people make mistakes at a much greater rate than well-rested folks, and everyone knows that tasks take twice as long when you’re exhausted.
Treat yourself with the respect you deserve – including eight hours of solid sleep. Your holidays will be much more fun when you’re rested.
Prioritize sleep so much so that Santa Claus and the reindeer won’t dare to wake you up. You’ll be happier for it.
CEO of Spark Compliance Consulting
Kristy Grant-Hart is the founder and CEO of Spark Compliance.
She’s a renowned expert at transforming compliance departments into in-demand business assets.