Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 18 2016

New Scientific Research Shows How Much Sleep You Need To Be A Better Leader

Kira Baier

Members of the meetings industry are very familiar with running on fumes. From late-night receptions to early morning networking breakfasts to afternoon Board meetings, getting sleep in this profession can be very challenging. But does it really matter? Is that whole get-eight-hours-each-night rule really that important? The answer is a resounding yes.

“Sleep is beneficial for a host of cognitive functions that help us solve problems effectively, including insight, pattern recognition, and the ability to come up with innovative and creative ideas,” Nick van Dam, McKinsey’s global chief learning officer, and Els van der Helm, a McKinsey sleep specialist, write in an article for Harvard Business Review. “One study has shown that a good night’s sleep leads to new insights: participants who enjoyed one were twice as likely to discover a hidden shortcut in a task as those who didn’t.”

Research isn’t just grounded in the positives of getting an ample amount of sleep. It also highlights the serious issues that arise when we don’t let our bodies rest and recharge. The two McKinsey experts discuss more studies that show that after 20 hours of wakefulness — for example, staying up until 2 AM and waking up again at 6 AM — a person’s cognitive abilities mirror someone who has a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent. That’s certifiably drunk in the United States.

SEE ALSO: How Sleep Affects Attendee Engagement

So what do all these statistics mean? They remind us of the importance of evaluating our regular sleep cycles. For example, are you feeling burned out in the afternoon and fueling yourself with an injection of caffeine? Try taking a nap. Seriously. Research shows that people who take naps are facing problems solving a video game problem were nearly twice as likely to solve it versus those who powered through the day and remained awake.

Want to know how much rest big business names like Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Tim Cook get each night? Check out “These Are The Sleeping Habits Of Some Of The Most Successful Leaders In The World.”

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