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Sleep More, Work Better


Need another excuse to make time for a good night’s sleep? Getting the recommended seven to eight hours might mean the difference between being just OK at your job and being the office rock star. Sound far-fetched? Consider this.

sleeping cat 

(Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn/Flickr)

1. Sleep affects mental agility.

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A 2013 study at the University of Surrey’s Sleep Research Centre in the UK found that study subject who slept an hour less per night had trouble with mental agility tasks, when compared with subjects who slept an hour more.

Anyone who’s ever wrestled with a particularly gnarly spreadsheet after a rough night with the sandman can attest to the fact that it’s harder to get stuff done when you’re overtired.

2. Lack of sleep might be bad for your health.

In the same study, researchers found that changing from seven-and-a-half hours of sleep to six-and-a-half hours of sleep per night “switched on” certain genes — and not the ones you’d want. Specifically, they saw increased activity in “genes that are associated with processes like inflammation, immune response and response to stress.” They also saw more activity in genes associated with diabetes and cancer.

3. Getting more sleep could improve your mood.

Even if you have that rare job in which you’re a truly individual contributor (as opposed to a manager, or someone who works cheek-by-jowl with other teammates every day) you have to be able to get along with your co-workers in order to get stuff done. That requires patience, a sense of perspective, and a certain amount of good humor — in other words, the first things to go when you’re exhausted.

“One study showed that an insufficient night’s sleep was one of the top two reasons for being in a bad mood at work,” writes Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, at Good Housekeeping. “…Another study suggested that getting one extra hour of sleep each night would do more for your daily happiness than getting a $60,000 raise.”

In other words, time might actually be worth more than money — provided you spend that time getting enough rest.

One caveat, though: the “perfect” amount of sleep varies by individual. While the average adult needs seven to eight hours (per WebMD), your mileage may vary. Some people need as many as ten hours or as few as five to feel rested.

You know your body. If it won’t function on five, don’t try to make it. Invest in sleep, and you could improve more than your outlook on life. You could boost your career, as well.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you get enough sleep? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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Agree! Getting enough sleep can be one of the main contributors to your career boost. When you are well-rested your brain can do wonders!


You are absolutely right! Sleep is important for our everyday functioning…and there is no “catching up” on sleep. Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

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