Thomas Edison supposedly slept very little. Donald Trump also states that he sleeps only a few hours per night. It was said that John F. Kennedy did the same. Since I also sleep very little (4 - 5 hours per night), I thought I was in good company. However, in my reading on productivity, it appears my nocturnal habits may be counterproductive to my effectiveness during the day.
As we rob the night of sleep hours to get more things done, we are depriving our body of much needed time for it to repair and rejuvenate itself. Sleep is what we need to stay alert and focused on the day's activities. It's commonly known, however that, although each of us have an internal clock that is based on 24 hours, everyone's internal clock differs. Because of this we mistakenly think we can get by with less sleep. This belief is bolstered by a time of improved effectiveness because we have more time to get things done. Most of us, however, fool ourselves and don't see the diminishing returns we are getting from our efforts. In allowing sleep deprivation to creep into our lives, we don't notice that we are getting a lot done, but we could have done the same amount faster had we been refreshed and alert.
How does one know if they are suffering from sleep deprivation? Here are some symptoms:
"Exhaustion, fatigue and lack of physical energy are common sleep deprivation symptoms. Exhaustion and fatigue affect our emotional moods, causing pessimism, sadness, stress and anger. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has suggested that social problems such as road rage may be caused, in part, by a national epidemic of sleepiness."
Other medical research at Havard points to sleep deprivation contributing to an increased heart disease risk, higher risks of diabetes, and obesity.
Part of the problem is that we do not see ourselves having a problem:
"The take-home message is this: Don't rely on your own sense of whether or not you're getting enough sleep. You may very well be chronically sleep-deprived and consider that normal," he tells WebMD. "In some ways, it's similar to people in chronic pain -- they don't realize how much pain they have until it's relieved.
This self-denial may play a key role in many of the 100,000 car crashes each year in the U.S. that result from sleep deprivation. "Another study showed that 50% of the people who caused car crashes did not perceive that they were sleepy immediately prior to the crash," says Mark Mahowald, MD, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center and a spokesman for the National Sleep Foundation. "So if you talk to people who are sleep-deprived, half of the time they will be driving impaired but do not perceive themselves to be."
So it appears to be better for us, productivity-wise, to get the amount of sleep that we need and not short-change ourselves of that precious commodity. Strategies for getting up early (and I've written a post on that) are still good for those of us who get up to speed slowly in the morning, but the number one strategy is still getting an adequate night's sleep to begin with. Below are a list of links to help us get a better night's sleep. For me, I'm going to bed.