No matter the question, the answer is often a good night’s sleep. It’s exactly why you feel so much better if you’ve slept well. Eight hours of rest has benefits that outweigh everything else.
In fact, it’s not ample sleep but the lack of it that causes numerous physical and mental health problems: Such as a weak heart. A recent study found that those who sleep less and poorly are 27 per cent more likely to have plaque in their arteries—and so, more cardiovascular problems. Sleeping soundly, therefore, is not a luxury, but a necessity.
Sleep and productivity are interlinked
If you think you can continue the momentum of good work when you’re habitually under-slept, you’re mistaken.
Experts say that if your sleep cycle is disturbed or ignored, everything from a balanced state of mind, ability to recall, to learning and problem-solving skills are compromised. In one study, for example, scientists found that sleep helps memory and recall because during sleep, recently encoded memory episodes are “unzipped” and replayed to that brain region which was originally involved in their capture.
The best leaders understand sleep
“Sleep is a wonderful thing that comes to you naturally but if you try to force it, it evades you,” Gopichand Katragadda, the former group CTO of Tata Sons and now the founder of AI company Myelin Foundry, says. No more are leaders talking about their superhuman ability to stay awake but admitting that they, too, need to sleep. Katragadda allows himself eight hours of rest every night and considers it “fundamental” to be able to do his best at work the next day.
The CEO and co-founder of fintech platform CreditMate, Jonathan Bill agrees. In fact, he prefers to indulge in a sleep routine to ensure that he is getting the required rest every night. Between 5 and 6 pm, Bill is back home; returning early gives him that time required to unwind before he sleeps. “Sleep is important for productivity,” he says, “and I feel that if I have not slept it affects me the next day”. And so, he tries to do as much as possible from “meditating to reading a book” to sleep well.
It’s not a trade-off anymore. Dinesh Agarwal, founder and CEO of e-commerce company IndiaMART, says that if he is travelling, he doesn’t insist on returning the same night. He might extend his stay to be able to sleep well.
And Sairee Chahal, the founder of Sheroes, says, “I can’t give up sleep. If I’ve had a very late night, chances are I might miss breakfast but not sleep.”
Sleep helps to thrive better
Tech policy professional Prasanto Kumar Roy says he spent “50 years not really worrying about health” but has now begun to realise that “stress gets to you”. He finds his ability to handle stress and immunity levels are up when he sleeps well. “If I’m sleep deprived, it affects my work and my immunity, I start falling sick.”
Like many others, Roy used to “manage” with four-five hours of sleep, but has noticed that if he reduces sleep, his immunity drops almost instantly. “I end up catching a cold after two or three days of less sleep.” On the other hand, if he manages to go to bed relatively earlier than usual, “it makes a huge difference. So clearly, the sleep equation is a major part of it.”
Each admission is surprising because barely a couple of years ago, it was almost considered cool to only sleep four hours and work for the other 20. But today, increasing scientific evidence has exposed the myopia associated with it.
And entrepreneurs and business leaders are finally understanding, and talking about, the importance of sleep—for both their personal performance and well-being and for their company’s.