Guest post by David A. Buczek, President DB&A
Dr. Charles Czeisler from Harvard University, one of the foremost authorities on sleep research, recalls the time when he encountered a woman in a remote village in South America where there was no electricity. In her humble home there were no lamps and just a few tiny candles. Czeisler asked through an interpreter how she managed to move about her home at night, in case one of her children needed assistance, for example. It took several minutes of translated dialogue to understand the woman’s dismay with the question. Her response was simply that her children, and she and her husband for that matter, never were awake at night. When the sun went down, they wound down their day and went to sleep. When the sun came up, the roused and went about their day, fully rested.
This anecdote points to a sharp contrast between how agrarian societies in the past managed their sleep, and how different we view sleep today. The invention of the electric light bulb a century ago was a huge achievement. It meant people could be more productive by lengthening their day. It also had a down side as well in that we began trading sleep for activity. Today, the competition for our attention is enormous and relentless. No matter the time of day we have options for staying in constant conversations with friends, being entertained, or working away the hours.
Statistics show that in 1959 the average reported daily sleep duration among Americans was 8.5 hours. In 2007 that plummeted to 6.7 hours. Also in 1959 only 2% of people reported receiving less than 6 hours of sleep. In 2007 that number reached 20%! All humans, with rare exceptions, need between 7 and 9 hours of good sleep each night to function properly. Without proper rest our brains cannot consolidate learning from the day before, and our bodies cannot recharge and recuperate. In short, sleep deprived people are less able to be fully productive. That means that while we think we are being more productive sacrificing sleep for work, we may actually be less productive in the long run.
Leaders need to be aware of the pressures that they place on themselves and their employees; pressures related to long work hours and limited time for rest and recuperation. Adequate time for sleep, rest breaks, and even naps can improve the cognitive reserves of our employees, and that means fewer errors, happier workers, and increased productivity and profits. To learn even more about the importance of sleep, breaks and naps, be sure to attend the webinar Effective Leadership Requires Effective People to be held on June 12th. Register here: http://msbcoach.com/effective-leadership-requires-effective-people
About David A. Buczek
Mr. Buczek co-founded DB&A in 2002 and has led the development and growth of the firm since its inception. Prior to starting DB&A, Mr. Buczek led the Digital Business Strategy practice for Healthcare, Government and Not-for-Profit clients for Sapient, a premier internet consulting firm. Before that he was a senior level consultant and practice manager at American Management Systems and Xerox Integrated Systems. He began his professional career at MITRE, C3I Division, in McLean, Virginia.
In addition to his consulting work, Mr. Buczek has also taught graduate level courses in the MBA program at The American University, and in the Masters in Technology Management and MBA programs at George Mason University. In addition, he was the co-developer of a program of study in IT Portfolio Management for Georgetown University. Mr. Buczek is currently developing a sequential program of study for George Mason University, Center for Infrastructure Protection, in Fatigue Risk Management.