Americans put themselves through sleep deprivation in order to keep up with multiple jobs and side-hustles, family, friends, and staying on top of the ever-shifting digital age that will determine if many of us will have future work. What’s worse is that we take pride in it.
But to what consequence?
Is it better to lose a little sleep in order to stay a step ahead?
I’m sure you know the answer to my leading questions. You’re pretty smart. All my readers are. But even smart people self-harm.
Not only does losing sleep decrease your performance and cognitive function, but it gets worse the older you get. However, just because you’re in your twenties doesn’t mean that you’re not losing functionality.
Here are just a few of many studies that illustrate this point:
That last source has a part that really drives the point home:
“Low-quality sleep and sleep deprivation also negatively impact mood, which has consequences for learning. Alterations in mood affect our ability to acquire new information and subsequently to remember that information. Although chronic sleep deprivation affects different individuals in a variety of ways (and the effects are not entirely known), it is clear that a good night’s rest has a strong impact on learning and memory.” (From the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School)
Why It Matters
@@Creatives need to take their sleep seriously.@@ Like athletes, we have a duty to keep ourselves in top working order. Our work isn’t always physically taxing, but does require high cognitive functions such as problem solving, predictive reasoning, and sustained focus.
We need to be aware of our limitations and pay very close attention to what our bodies are telling us. It’s easy to override the sleep response for hours before your body gets loud enough to demand our attention. When our bodies get to that point, it’s desperate. It’s trying to shut us down as a last resort to keep you from malfunctioning.
There’s a lot of research about how long you should sleep. But what’s just as important is how long you stay awake. Don’t push yourself too far. You’ll experience diminished returns on the time you’re investing. And investing that time into sleep is not a waste.
And remember that last statement from Harvard Medical School? Creativity is an ever-evolving endeavor. Successful creativity means that you’re always learning new things and pushing your boundaries to greater heights. @@Don’t stunt your creative growth with this preventable mistake.@@
Making A Change
Just like you knew what the research about sleep loss said before I gave you some extended reading, you know the solution. But making changes isn’t as easy as knowing that changes should be made.
“I’m a night owl. I get work done best during that time.”
That’s fine. But you need to make sure to follow that time with an appropriate amount of sleep.
“If I go to bed early, I won’t see my friends/play video games/watch late night.”
Sometimes you have to ask your friends to help you with your growth. If your friends love and respect you, they’ll accommodate your plans. You may not get to see them as often, but this may be the sacrifice you need to make in order to do your creative work. You will also sacrifice other things you love. But everyone has to decide what they are willing to give up to accomplish their dreams.
“I actually can’t get enough sleep. There’s too much to do.”
You need to exercise good time management skills. Reassess how you spend your time. Where are you losing time? Where are you wasting it? You probably have hours worth of unclaimed time that you can add to your day and get more sleep.
This isn’t easy. I struggle with this myself. But @@if you want the best out of your day, you have to get the best out of your sleep.@@
What About You?
I hope you found this helpful. If so, please share it someone who might need it.
Are you sacrificing sleep?
How are you arranging your day to have a good night?
Let me know in the comments! I’d love to know your methods.