4 Signs Bad Sleep is Seriously Impacting Your Career, According to Harvard

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Who's sleeping well these days? Not many of us. 

Even before the onset of COVID-19, about 25% of American adults suffered from insomnia. A similar percentage reported excessive sleepiness. 

Long story short: We're not sleeping well. And it's not only damaging our health (sleep deprivation can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease and depress), but also our careers. Many studies show that a lack of sleep can seriously inhibit workplace performance, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. Here are four signs that you're experiencing the serious ways bad sleep can impact your career. 

1. You feel less satisfied in your job and less productive.

Does your job feel dreary recently? Do you have a hard time feeling satisfied or productive at work, even if you are doing work that you generally find tolerable (or even nice) to do? New or increased feelings of decreased workplace satisfaction or productivity can be the side effects of poor sleep patterns, according to a study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews. 
Sleep deprivation can make you feel moody and ineffective, or can literally impact your ability to be productive in the workplace. More on that next. 

2.You're not as creative as usual. 

Are you hitting dead ends while you're problem solving, or struggling to come up with the creative ideas you're usually cranking out? Bad sleep may be the culprit. 
Sleep helps to replenish glucose, the molecule that fuels the brain, and clears out beta-amyloid, a protein which builds up in the brain and disrupts cognitive activity. Both of these functions help with creativity — and a lack of them can mean feeling uninspired or unable to process new thoughts and ideas. 

3. You're more forgetful. 

Speaking of cognitive difficulties, a lack of good sleep can also spell disaster for our memory. If you're struggling to learn, to retain information or to be detail-oriented, poor sleep patterns may be why. 
Better sleep "has been linked to improved memory, knowledge acquisition and learning," according to Harvard's article. 

4. Your relationships at work (and influence) feel weaker. 

Poor sleep can cause your workplace connections to suffer and can make effective leadership a more difficult challenge. In fact, one study found that unrested leaders are seen as less charismatic due to behavioral changes caused by a lack of quality sleep. The unrested leaders in the study also had lower engagement with their ideas and were more likely to exhibit abusive behaviors, both of which spell disaster for workplace influence. 

So, what can you do to get better sleep?

While we may hear about the mega-geniuses who are only sleep three hours a day to achieve all their amazing pursuits, getting more sleep often means getting better sleep. That starts by prioritizing rest over constant "productivity."
The amount of sleep each individual needs depends on their disposition, according to Harvard. So, don't feel bad if you find yourself going to sleep earlier or waking later than your friends or than you usually do — it may be necessary for your peak performance at this point in your life. 
If you're unable to turn off your brain when you hit the hay, try mindfulness exercises or speaking to a medical professional about your stress. Insomnia is very real, and I promise no one on the internet is qualified to treat it.