Don't cut back on sleep
As the demands of life keep rising, one of the first steps we take is to cut back on sleep. Perhaps it's just for a few days or a week, when overly pressured. But often it's a recurring practice, one that Tony Schwartz, an expert on personal energy, frowns upon.
"We continue to live by a remarkably durable myth: Sleeping one hour less will give us one more hour of productivity. In reality, the research suggests that even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity and our productivity," he writes on the Energy Project blog.
So how much sleep do we need? He notes that research finds that when people are in environments without windows and clocks and told to sleep when they are tired, 95 per cent sleep between seven and eight hours out of every 24 hours. Another 2.5 per cent need more than eight hours. That means just 2.5 per cent of people require less than seven hours of night a sleep to feel fully rested - one out of every 40 people. But when Mr. Schwartz, in his talks, asks how many in the audience sleep less than seven hours a night, the vast majority raise their hands.
He stresses that great performers sleep even more than the average. In a famous study of violinists by Anders Ericcson, the top performers slept an average of 8.5 hours out of every 24, including a 20- to 30-minute nap in mid-afternoon.
So sleep more, perchance to improve your productivity.