Want to know about a job performance booster that costs you nothing, yet can give you the energy and clear thinking you need to get ahead in your career?
It’s sleep—or more specifically, regularly racking up at least seven hours a night of it (the amount recommended for adults by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine).
That’s something that an astounding 79% of Americans aren’t getting, reports new survey data released Friday by SleepScore Labs, which is promoting a national campaign with The Dr. Oz Show to help Americans understand the importance of sleep health.
A top complaint from survey respondents who don’t sleep enough is feeling “excessively tired” during the day, according to the findings. Ever feel heavy-lidded when you should be focused or as if you could nod off right at your desk? Those are signs you—and your work—are likely suffering from this lack of sleep. In fact, a separate 2014 survey of U.S. workers conducted by employee-wellness firm Virgin Pulse found that 76% of people reported feeling tired multiple days of the week, while 15% admit to dozing off during the day at least once per week. Meanwhile, 30% reported being unhappy with the quality and quantity of their sleep.
Lack of sleep also apparently tricks you into thinking you’re an office all-star. People who slept just six hours per night for two weeks functioned as poorly as if they’d gone without sleep for 48 hours—yet they thought they were performing at the top of their game, according to classic research published in the journal Sleep.
Sleep deprivation can have multiple causes: stress, too much light in your bedroom, an addiction to late-night binge sessions of Westworld. But whatever is driving you to exhaustion, know that it’s short-changing your career in some specific ways. Here are three reasons you should catch more zzzs.
You’ll exercise better judgment. An ongoing snooze deficit has a negative effect on the part of the brain that handles decision-making and problem-solving. This could be why you’re finding it harder to set proper deadlines and size up a client’s needs—or even remember that client’s name.
You’ll avoid becoming the office grump. Exhaustion triggers mood swings and irritability, which can lead to snapping at coworkers or overreacting to minor team setbacks. You may not even realize that your responses and demeanor are putting off colleagues and making them less interested in collaborating with you.
You may end up using fewer PTO days. Chronic tiredness leaves you more prone to colds and has been linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and obesity. You might be out sick dealing with legitimate issues, but if higher-ups think you’re taking too many days off, it could translate to a lack of commitment to your job—and that could put you out of the running for a raise or promotion.