In today’s competitive business environment, working in excess of 100 hours a week and not sleeping is often seen as a badge of honor among entrepreneurs.
However, not only is not getting enough sleep bad for your health, it’s also bad for your business. From the way you relate to others to how you solve problems, here are five ways poor sleep can hurt your company that might convince you to get more rest.
Your Mood Is Suffering
Simply put, not getting enough sleep at night makes you grumpy — and this can make you less likeable. In fact, studies show that people who regularly get only 4-5 hours of sleep are often viewed as less intelligent and charismatic than those who sleep the recommended 8-10 hours a night. Not only does this make it more difficult for you to be an effective leader, but it can also take a toll on your business. Attracting venture capitalists, investors, top talent, and customers isn’t only about selling your business, but also selling yourself. And when you’re sleep-deprived? It’s more difficult to show the energy and passion you have for your company and you’ll have a harder time coming across as someone who has what it takes to do great things.
All of this is not even considering the fact that a lack of sleep can make you moody and short-tempered, affecting your relationships with others. Anxiety and sleep are also closely related, with sleep deprivation being a major contributor to mental health issues that can affect your mood. Bottom line? No one wants to work with a jerk, but when you don’t get enough sleep, that may be exactly what you are.
You Aren’t Nearly as Productive
Time management is a challenge for many entrepreneurs in general, but when you are sleep-deprived, making the most of your work time is all but impossible. In one study of more than 4,000 workers at four of the U.S.’s largest companies, researchers found that the people who got the least amount of sleep were also the least productive — and they spent more time figuring out how to manage their time than anyone else. Insufficient sleep makes it more difficult to stay focused, so it takes you longer to get things done, and it also makes you tire more quickly, limited how much you can accomplish in a day.
You’re More Likely to Make Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, but sleep deprivation increases the likelihood of making big mistakes, including errors that lead to accidents. In fact, new research indicates that sleep-deprived people are more than twice as likely to make mistakes. This is in large part because sleep helps support your reasoning, thinking, and memory skills. When you don’t get adequate rest, your brain simply can’t process information as well as it should, and you lose focus and concentration. While some mistakes can be easily corrected, others can be devastating to your business. For instance, missing a clause in a contract could leave your company responsible for thousands of costs you weren’t planning on.
Your Decision-Making Suffers
One common reason for sleep deprivation-induced mistakes is that not getting enough rest impedes your decision-making skills. Brain researchers have discovered that not getting enough sleep significantly affects how individuals perceive risk, and leads them to make riskier decisions. Using evidence gathered from sleep-deprived gamblers, researchers determined that a lack of sleep makes it more likely people will expect a risk to pay off — and they will inflate that payoff — and see losses as less important or harmful. In other words, the more tired you are, the less likely you are to consider bad outcomes and the ripple effect of decisions, instead focusing on the potential positive outcomes.
Although any business requires accepting a certain amount of risk, successful business people are generally risk averse and want to reduce their chance of loss. Poor sleep has a harmful effect on your ability to evaluate all possible outcomes and choose the path that leads to the best one. Ultimately, these poor decisions could prove to be the downfall of your business.
You’re Less Creative
Finally, not getting enough sleep has a major effect on your creativity and innovation. When you sleep, your brain is busy making connections between new information you absorb every day and the information already stored in your neural pathways. This forms new memories, and can spur new ideas that you might not have otherwise come up with. There’s a reason you’re often told to “sleep on it” when facing a problem, as relaxing and letting your brain build more connections will give you a fresh perspective and new ideas in the morning. If you’re trying to work out a solution to a tough problem, or come up with creative new ideas, don’t pull an all-nighter in the office, but head home and go to bed instead. Everything will be better in the morning.