Pulling an all-nighter should not be seen as an accomplishment.
Being sleep deprived does not only impact yourself, it will affect the people around you as well – family, friends, colleagues and even your organization. Our prefrontal cortex, the driver of our executive functioning, is responsible for cognitive processes such as problem solving, reasoning, organizing, planning and executing plans. In other words, it allows us to get things done and to lead in an effective and efficient way.
Unfortunately this part of our brain cannot function properly without sleep …
Despite this knowledge, all too often we allow sleep deprivation into our lives; we stay up late to answer incoming mails, we take overnight ‘red eye’ flights instead of an earlier flight, … But did you know that after roughly 17 to 19 hours of wakefulness our task-performance is equivalent to that of someone who has a blood-alcohol level of 0.05 percent? Starting from 20 hours of wakefulness this percentage even rises to 0.1 percent. You can imagine the consequences on our work performance; we lose our ability to make accurate judgements, be creative, stay focused, … and perhaps most importantly to support others.
As a sleep-deprived leader you will be more impatient, irritable and antagonistic which results in worse leader-employee relationships and eventually in a diminished work output. The whole team will pay the price if a leader doesn’t respect his recovery.
GRAM highly regards sleep as one of the pillars of recovery to enhance your quality of life and consequently your quality of performance. By giving our corporate athletes the same guidance and coaching as top athletes, they are able to perform at work at the highest level on a daily basis. For example, when we think of a sprint athlete we all find it normal to see him lay down, resting on the track in between his sprint bouts of that particular training. However when we are sprinting cognitively on the job we find it absolutely normal to go on sprinting without any decent ‘resting’ bouts in between our sprinting bouts.
We should regard our brain as a muscle. Our muscles produce lactate when working, causing you to eventually stop when ‘exhausted’ because of the accumulated lactate in your system. The brain has a similar process. When working it produces a sort of ‘waste’ product that will interfere with optimal cognitive functioning. Within the brain this product is called ‘noise’. The more noise, the harder it is for the brain to focus, because more energy is going towards filtering that noise and by default less to our cognitive task at hand. Sleep is one of the most powerful methods to decrease that noise and consequently make your brain performant again.
Your body can not be sprinting all the time, so why should your brain?