Rest for Success: Understanding the Importance of Sleep for High Achievers

Time is our most precious resource, and it is inevitable in life that we must make hard decisions about how to spend it. High achievers, no matter their profession, often end up taking on more and more responsibilities as their careers and lives progress.

Because they are high achievers, they’re often able to take on more than most. Even so, they eventually find their breaking point, and must start looking for a new solution to the problem of their limited time.

Rather than scaling back commitments, high achievers double down and work even harder by sacrificing sleep. Let’s explore that choice and the importance of sleep to professional success.

An Understandable Decision

Photo of Person Holding Alarm Clock
It’s easy to understand why high achievers may choose to cut back on sleep rather than admitting they are overburdened. Stepping back from responsibilities at work or home may feel like a failure. Exacting standards may make it difficult to delegate to others.

Often, high achievers approach this decision-making having already decided that the only solution to their problem is to find more time. While there are several ways to do this, the easiest is to generate more of it by sleeping less and working more.

Certainly, this solution is tempting on the surface. However, it’s unsustainable in the long-run. There’s only so much sleep a person can cut before lack of it begins impacting their performance—often without them realizing.

The Physiology of Sleep

While it may be easy for people to convince themselves sleep can be sacrificed, it’s a biological necessity. During deep sleep, our brains process and integrate new information and memories gathered throughout the day.

It triggers the release of certain hormones, which aid in the restoration and repair of brain cells. Sleep is critical to rebalancing stress hormones and strengthening our immune systems. Think of this process as a reboot for the human system, ensuring that things are running smoothly the next day.

Key benefits of proper restorative rest promote:

  • Mood regulation
  • Improved problem-solving skills
  • Increased creativity
  • Physical health

Sleep Deprivation

Without proper rest, performance deteriorates over time—increasing the likelihood of burnout, and the pressure to double down by working harder and sleeping even less. Lack of sleep is linked to obesity, heart disease, and loss of focus and productivity. High achievers often struggle to acknowledge the impact on their performance, especially when they struggle with perfectionism.

Sleep is a biological necessity. While some people may need more sleep than others, people often convince themselves that’s the case when it isn’t. Signs of a dysregulated sleep schedule include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Increase in errors at work
  • Loss of productivity
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Stress-related illnesses
  • Over-reliance on stimulants

Making Sleep a Priority

It’s not easy for high achievers to turn off their brains and a good night’s rest. They almost always have a slew of things they’re worried about, and a list of items that need doing. There are, however, several ways to begin making sleep a priority.

  • Start delegating tasks to others
  • Make room for routine exercise
  • Limit electronics before bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine after the morning
  • Cut back on responsibilities and stress

A good night’s rest will increase productivity and efficiency over time, lengthen your lifespan, and promote a much calmer lifestyle. Sometimes it’s necessary to do less so that you can do more.

Schedule an Appointment

Money doesn’t sleep, but you must. The urge to sacrifice sleep for productivity comes from a lifetime of practice. It’s a tool that works until it doesn’t—a kind of addiction. These patterns can be difficult, if not impossible, to break without help. Sometimes we must learn to challenge those thoughts and patterns through a mix of different treatments.

Make an appointment today for anxiety therapy to learn more about how you can balance your life and restore your body and mind to peak efficiency.