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#SELFCARESUNDAYS: Five reasons why it’s better to choose sleep over long working hours

04 Mar 2018

Our ancestors didn’t live in protected spaces like our modern homes. They were exposed to a wide range of dangers: attacks from animals, fellow humans, and even the wrath of Mother Nature. Yet, they did sleep – an act that put them in their most vulnerable state. Despite the risk of being unable to protect ourselves during sleep, our brains still require it. So, there must be an excellent reason for why rest is essential.

Success in the workplace can be massively influenced by the amount of sleep you manage to catch each night. You might assume that sleeping is akin to laziness and lack of motivation, but science proves that is not the case. More extended working hours will do you no good if they come at the expense of compromising your sleep cycle.

Need more concrete reasons? I’ve compiled the five top reasons why you should not compromise your eight-hour sleep for anything – and especially not for long working hours.

1. You will have better control over your emotions

We can all relate to being short-tempered, cranky, and irritable, as well as experiencing unexplained mood swings after a sleepless night. You’re more likely to snap at others even for their jokes. And, if you don’t feel it yourself, others will surely realise the difference between the “well-rested you” and the “sleepy you.”

According to research, sleep loss is linked to emotional disturbance. The 2010 study involved people from different age groups who were assigned various activities either after a sleepless night, or after having slept well. The differences were unmistakable.

One of the most highly regarded traits in the modern day workplace is emotional intelligence. Not only does sleeplessness make you slow and distracted, but it also makes it challenging to differentiate between positive and negative emotions. In fact, individuals from the study began to recognise neutral emotions as negative emotions. If you are sleep deprived, no matter how much you may want to foster your emotional capabilities, the slightest provocation or a dangerous situation runs the risk of rubbing you up on the wrong side.

According to a 2005 study, if you are sleep deprived, you will quickly get caught up in negative emotions at the slightest hint of disruption. But it doesn’t end there – sleep deprivation also affects your ability to experience positive emotions even when presented with the opportunity of a  goal-enhancing event.

2. Better concentration

When your mind is well-rested, it lets you focus clearly on things that matter the most. A tired brain is easily distracted and cannot prioritise work. Multitasking isn’t even on the plate for discussion.

Sleep may be directly linked to a person’s ability to concentrate. The trial group in a 2015 study were asked to focus on a specific object while ignoring background distractions. Those who slept well maintained better focus on the object as compared to those who didn’t sleep. In fact, the latter would quickly lose focus, unable to prioritise preferences.

For better concentration on both work and play, it is vital for the brain to be well-rested. It becomes an even more significant factor in the success of students. Those students who feel fresh exhibit higher motivation to excel and better academic performance, which eventually translates into better lifestyle opportunities.

3. Better capabilities of assessing potential risks

There’s a reason why driving is discouraged when you’re sleepy. Ideally, you’re discouraged for pretty much everything when you’re sleepy except for going to bed. When you’re not entirely awake, you’re more likely to take risky decisions which may have lasting effects on you.

According to recent research conducted on adolescents, sleep deprivation was directly linked to reckless behaviour. This fact has been reiterated in numerous investigations done on the subject. Throwing caution to the wind is typical behavior of the sleep-deprived who are far too consumed to be able to think about repercussions.

Indulging in risky financial decisions is never right, whether it’s your own business or at a place you currently work in. However, sleep deprivation increases your chances of partaking in precisely such risky transactions. Instead of being pragmatic, you will become more adventurous, which in turn can affect yourself and your company’s position. Having a good night’s sleep will allow you to determine the vagaries of transactions and assess risk in a much more reassured manner.

Sleep well to analyse risks better – some risks are better avoided than taken.

4. You will be happier

This happens when you’re able to better manage your emotions: you will feel motivated to achieve significant goals. There’s various research investigating what that can go wrong if you’re sleep deprived.

From chronic illnesses to accidents, and even psychological problems, a whole list of health issues can be appropriately addressed when you give your body a much-needed break. Fight back depressive bouts naturally with adequate sleep. This is a decision you’ll never regret.

5. You will become a better learner

Your memory functions better when you’re well-rested. So, whether you’re trying to learn a new language or just want to retain the memories you’re experiencing, make sure you sleep on it. You’ll preserve it better this way.

Much like eating, drinking, and bathing, sleeping is an essential part of your life. What most of us don’t realise is if we compromise on an activity that our brain needs, no matter what, we will reduce its performance. In a perfect analogy, it’s more like asking yourself to eat less than required each day and expecting the body to be functioning at full strength the next day.

Most people, students and adults alike, consider sleep as a dispensable luxury. Some may even equate it with laziness or inefficiency. It’s important to understand that everyone has the same hours in a day as you do. And, out of those 24 hours, sleeping for seven to eight hours everyday is natural. Your body demands it by shutting down. Pushing these limits in the pursuit of ever growing aspirations towards realising success carries additional risks.

Why would you trade success for a whole lot of mess? Take charge of your health – I doubt you’ll regret it.