Sleep deprivation and its effect on performance

Two eye opening pieces of research from Matthew Walker’s outstanding book ‘Why we sleep’.

·      Partially depriving people of sleep for 6 straight nights resulted in the same level of impairment as somebody kept awake all night.

·      Keeping people awake for 19 straight hours (i.e. from 7am until 2am) resulted in impairment levels the same as for people who were over the legal drink drive level.

If you are like me then you have experienced both those sleep deprivation scenarios.

Even more alarming is that when we are even partially sleep deprived we are terrible at estimating the negative impact it has on our performance - much like the drunk driver confident that they can walk straight down the line!

The message is that even small amounts of sleep deprivation starts to add up to have a serious impact on our ability to perform even basic tasks.

Sabotaging our own performance

Two nights of poor sleep, both largely self inflicted, and I can feel the negative impact on my performance. Focusing is a bit harder, I’m making more mistakes as I type, the creative juices aren’t really flowing.

Draining interactions with other people (on Twitter, Facebook and in person), light pollution from electronic devices, alcohol, sugary food. These are all dead certs to sabotage our ability to perform at our best.

Recognising the signs and taking some small steps to minimise the sabotage pays big dividends and top performers are masters at minimising self sabotage.