More Sleep Could Help You Get Your Next Promotion

Promotion

You are sure you’re getting that new promotion at work. You’ve been busy plotting and planning and helping everything around the office get done. You’ve made trips to get coffee and dropped off everyone’s mail in the box (when it isn’t even your job). You’ve studied and stayed up late working and you’ve made strategic steps to ensure you’re the best person for the job. You’ve put in long hours and you’ve proven that you’re dedicated. Remember that time you watched the Executive Vice President’s piglet, Daisy, for the entire weekend? You’ve earned the next step up so you’re not even surprised when you get called into your boss’ office for the big sit-down. What you are surprised by is what comes next. “I know you’ve worked really hard and are in line for that big promotion,” she says. “But I just think you seem a little rundown. This new position brings a lot more work and I’m not sure you have the energy to handle it just yet. Let’s give it another month before I decide.” You leave her office, dumbfounded. What happened? What went wrong? Have all those late nights and extra activities really caused you to be unproductive at work? Let’s take a look at what you can do to catch the right amount of Zs and ensure you get that big promotion next month.

Why your sleep is hard to find

It’s not only working those extra hours that can take away from your sleep. Sometimes it’s the very work itself. If you regularly work something other than a consistent, weekday, 9 a.m. to 5p.m. routine, you would fall under the category of a “non-traditional” worker who works on a shift work schedule. This can mean you work regular night shifts or a rotating combination of night and day shifts. Shift workers currently make up 29 percent of the American workforce.[1] For those millions of firefighters, air-traffic controllers,and hospital physicians, getting enough high-quality sleep is a particular challenge.

If you’re a woman, you’re also likely to find sleep a precious and rare commodity. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, women today make up nearly half of the workforce, and many women are the primary breadwinners for their families. In fact, between 1920 and 2012, women went from representing 21 percent of the U.S. workforce to 47 percent.[2] This growth has meant major positive social change over the past several decades, including the significant increase in women’s education levels and earning potential. But for many, being a working mother means you have increased demands and expectations on your time. Like many, you may be making up for your time crunch by cutting back on sleep.

Does sleep really impact your work life?

If you’re cutting your sleep hours and getting poor quality sleep, it can be a major issue in the workplace. Sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in errors, decreased productivity and accidents that can cost resources or even lives, depending on the job. Not getting quality sleep – whether for short or prolonged periods – has a significant effect on your ability to function, including impaired reaction time, judgment and vision. If you’re staying up late to try to get ahead at work, it might backfire and you may instead experience[3]:

  • Frequent sleepiness
  • Nodding off at meetings or while driving
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Lapses in memory
  • Poor job performance
  • Mood changes, such as being more snappy and irritableNone of which make you an excellent candidate for a promotion. Moreover, the negative effects of poor sleep aren’t only felt at the workplace; they also have safety consequences for our highways. A National Sleep Foundation survey revealed that 60 percent of adult drivers – about 168 million people in the U.S. – say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and that more than one-third (103 million people) have actually fallen asleep at the wheel, with many of these situations ending tragically.[4]

How can you revamp your sleep routine?

If you’ve now realized that it might appear to your boss that you’re a bit overloaded, there are some things you can do to meet social and familial obligations, balance employment, and still get the sleep that your body needs to function each day. Maintaining good health through sleep is becoming a bigger priority in modern American life. A number of studies about the sleepiness of doctors and med students during their rounds have alerted the medical community—and the public at large—to the links between time and a significant decrease in medical errors. Several organizations are taking steps to reduce the number of “on call” hours medical personnel are required to work without a break. In addition, consulting firms, workers’ rights groups, and unions are calling on employers, local communities, and even the U.S. government to rethink current scheduling and break policies. There are even public safety campaigns against drowsy driving (a common side effect of shift work). These are all powerful tools that you can use to start making your own sleep schedule.

If you’re on a shift schedule, try these tips for getting the sleep you need:

Take a Nap. Twenty minutes of sleep can do wonders for you. Napping at work is slowly becoming an accepted practice, especially for medical workers who are pulling long shifts.

Stick to a schedule. Routine is important to your sleep and overall health so go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even weekends and days off. If your work schedule fluctuates, speak to your boss about avoiding the dreaded back-to-back night shift/morning shift schedule. Take any scheduled breaks that you have and use them to rest.

Get your family involved. Opting to spend time with your family can cut into hours of sleep but working out a compromise can help you have your cake and eat it too. For example, mom sleeps from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the family has dinner together at 6 p.m.

Control the noise. Trying to sleep when almost everyone else is awake can be difficult because of the daytime noise. Invest in earplugs or try using a fan to help block out any outside noise.

Cross over to the dark side. Like noise, light can be a real sleep stealer. Make sure your bedroom (or nap room) is nice and dark. An eye mask is an inexpensive solution that can be used at night or while you nap.

Don’t worry! Now that you know that losing sleep can hurt your overall work performance, you can start right now by making sure to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. In a month, you’ll be more than ready to step into your boss’ office and accept that promotion.

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