Are you frustrated that you’re not moving up in your career? Maybe you’re sick and tired of being passed over for promotions, of seeing other people get bumped ahead of you, or of not being able to finish the tasks you’re assigned with the flair you’d like to give them. And maybe these things upset you so much that you can’t sleep at night.
In fact, it could be lack of sleep that, if not causing your problems at work, is at least contributing to them. If you are chronically sleep deprived, it’s going to affect how you’re working whether you noticed it or not. In fact, you may not remember a time when you didn’t struggle with these things. If you’re wondering if a lack of sleep is holding back your career, look for these signs.
People who don’t sleep well have a hard time focusing. It makes sense if you think about it. Your brain repairs itself and stores memories while you sleep. If it doesn’t get to do that, it follows that it won’t work as well the next day. Focus requires quite a lot of brain power, and a brain that doesn’t get to rest won’t have the batteries necessary to sustain that state.
A lack of focus means that tasks take longer. If you find yourself taking longer to do things than you used to, look at your sleep. It may be that it takes you longer, now, because you aren’t getting enough rest. This lowered productivity can cost your company, and it can cost you, too.
You’re Sick a Lot
Your immune system doesn’t function very well when you aren’t getting enough sleep. In fact, people who sleep less than 7 hours per night are almost three times more likely to develop a cold. In fact, a lack of sleep is tied to poor immune functioning, because your body doesn’t have a chance to make all of the defender cells (T- and B-cells) that it needs. Then, when a virus or a bacteria come along, you don’t have the reserves to fight it off.
A lack of sleep is tied to other physical problems, too, all of which can cause you to miss days of work. It has been tied to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, to name just a few.
You Can’t Choose Wisely
Sleep deprivation causes prefrontal cortex functioning to suffer. This is the part of the brain where all sorts of things like decision making and self-control come from. Clearly, it’s a part of the brain that needs to be functioning well for you at work. When it’s not working well, you will have a hard time making any decisions, but especially ones that are out of the ordinary, made in emergencies, or made under any conditions that are less than optimal or usual. Since these can be make-or-break times at work, your performance will suffer when your prefrontal cortex isn’t working well.
If you’ve ever missed a night of sleep, you know how miserable you feel the next day. Over time, that unhappiness expands, to the point that chronically sleep-deprived people are more likely to be depressed and anxious. Even if it doesn’t go that far, they’re likely to be moody and to feel overwhelmed, which doesn’t make them easy to be around, at work or anywhere else. They’re also worse at resolving conflict and they tend to be negative. If no one wants to be around you, it’s easy to see why you aren’t advancing at work.
Your Logic Doesn’t Work
Sleep deprivation makes you worse at math. Since many of your logic circuits are the same ones you use to do calculations, it makes sense that your logic would become faulty when you’re tired, too. Most jobs require mathematical analysis or logical thinking as part of performing daily tasks. When these aren’t working, you may come to unwarranted conclusions or simply struggle to get your job done.
You’re Unable to Deal with People
Most people have to deal with other human beings as part of their job. Whether you’re running a team, on a team, or working with customers, you need to know how to read people, how to make jokes they’ll laugh at, and how to behave socially. When you’re sleep deprived, all of these things become harder. It will be more difficult for you to know what other people are feeling. It’s also harder to connect via humor because you won’t always know when to crack a joke or when to laugh. You need your people skills for work, and they will suffer when you aren’t sleeping well.
There’s often a vicious cycle that develops in chronically sleep-deprived workers. They don’t sleep, so they struggle through their days, so they end up taking work home and staying up late to get it done. Then they don’t sleep enough again, and the cycle perpetuates itself. Meanwhile, the compounded stress of unfinished work furthers this cycle even more.
If you find yourself in this cycle, it might be worth the time and energy to take a few days off and focus on rest. Don’t take any work home with you, turn off your cell phone, and just take care of yourself. If you can get back to a state where you’re well-rested, you may find that you can get your work done at the office and you don’t have to bring it home anymore. This will help you get more rest regularly, and your all-around performance at work should go up, too.