According to National Sleep Foundation, we need 7-8 hours of sleep to function at peak and enjoy our life to the fullest. But, my overworked colleagues, unaware of the above recommendation and the research behind it, continue to argue against sufficient sleep. Here, is a list of arguments made by skeptics of sufficient sleep and my responses:
- I don’t need eight hours of sleep. Studies have shown that restricting sleep to four or six hours (compared to eight hours) for fourteen days causes a dose-dependent decline in neurocognitive performance.
- I only need five hours of sleep. The short-sleeper gene, a rare mutation, is present in only 3 percent of the population (Ying-Hui Fu, University of California, San Francisco). The majority of working people get less than six hours of sleep, certainly during a major opportunity or catastrophe. Remember, there is a 97% chance that you are not a short-sleeper.
- I can fight sleep deprivation with strong motivation. Motivation improves attention but not creativity, flexibility, mood, perception, and information management.
- I have achieved a lot by sleeping less. You could achieve even more by sleeping more and working smarter.
- I don’t perceive the deficit in my performance. Sleep deprivation adversely affects prefrontal cortex (the executive center), which is essential for successful self-evaluation. This adverse effect makes us unaware of our deficit.
- I am highly productive. You have increased your output as a worker/manager, at the expense of your executive output.
- The stakes are so high that sleep has to be on the back burner. This is exactly the reason you should be giving sleep a top priority.
- I don’t want to sleep away a third of my life. Investment in sleep will enrich your life qualitatively, both at home and at work.
- I will sleep when I am dead. Unfortunately, studies have shown increased mortality associated with insufficient sleep. You must sleep eight hours every night if you want a successful career that can span five to six decades.
Sleep is a process of the brain, for the brain, and by the brain.