For many people, the phrase “rise and grind” has become a way of life. The mantra, repeated by Millennials, entrepreneurs, and workaholics en masse, represents the belief that if you outwork the competition, it’s only a matter of time before you achieve your own career success. But the trappings of living a life where busyness is worn as a badge of honor has many people putting sleep on the backburner.
The impact of hustle culture is real. Besides the high-level stress that accompanies the always-on, always-working mentality, health experts say the proliferation of sleep debt that is central to hustle culture is producing more harm than good — and remaining in a state of perpetual exhaustion could actually interfere with a person’s goals of reaching success.
The Problem with Sleep Debt
A 2020 survey found that more than 54 percent of senior managers said giving up sleep was part of getting ahead and employees across all job ranks reported getting an average of just 6.6 hours of sleep every night. Sleep loss is even more common for shift workers and those balancing two or more jobs, including those with a side hustle.
Sleep experts generally recommend that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep at night. While most people experience sleep loss occasionally, consistent sleep deprivation can create sleep debt. Also known as a sleep deficit, sleep debt is when a person sleeps less hours than their body needs to wake up feeling rested and refreshed.
Acquiring a sleep debt is cumulative. For example, if you only get to sleep for four hours one night, you’ll accumulate three hours of sleep debt. If you continue to lose three hours of sleep for a week straight, you’ll end up with 21 hours of missed sleep. And it’s not as easy as catching up on sleep on the weekends; when you sleep in on a Saturday, you’re more likely to disrupt your sleep rhythm and carry the deficit into the next workweek.
When you are sleep deprived, you open yourself up to a laundry list of bad habits and health problems. If you’re skipping out on sleep, it can be easy to rely on extra cups of coffee or energy shots to give you a jolt during the day. This can cause you to experience a midday crash, lead to increases in appetite, make you miss out on that gym session, or cause you to consume more alcohol at a work party than if you were well-rested.
Combined with fatigue, these poor lifestyle habits can affect your mood, job performance, and focus, as well as lead to health issues including depression, anxiety, weight gain, heart disease, dementia, or stroke. Missing out on Zzzs can throw your body into a vicious cycle that can be difficult to get out of.
How Sleep Can Enhance Productivity
Simply put, you don’t have to sacrifice sleep to achieve success. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that sleep “should be considered an important element in workplace health.” In fact, getting enough sleep can actually help boost your work productivity.
In his TEDx talk “The Science of Sleep (and the Art of Productivity),” Dr. Matthew Carter He blamed the sleep epidemic on increases in work and home responsibilities, life stressors, and the pervasive addictions of smartphones — as well as the toxic mindset that sleep should be sacrificed in the name of hustle culture. He explained people are actually able to get more done on a good night’s sleep, not less.
In an interview with Zapier, Carter said: “One of the biggest reasons that people don’t get enough sleep is because they feel they have too much to do or because they are stressed about what they need to work on. So, we’re not getting enough work done because we’re sleep deprived, and we’re not sleeping because we’re not getting enough work done.”
A 2018 study showed that insomnia revealed the greatest impact on work productivity — people with moderate to severe insomnia experienced more than double the productivity loss to those who got the recommended amount of sleep at night. Further, people who got less than five hours of sleep experienced a nearly 30 percent drop in productivity loss.
“Many people believe that in order to get more done, they need to sacrifice sleep,” said senior author Michael Grandner, the director of the Sleep and Health Research Program and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. “This study shows that, quite to the contrary, poor sleep is associated with lower productivity in general, and specifically across a wide range of areas.”
Health experts say the case for bedtime is clear: Getting the right amount of sleep helps you to zero your focus, cultivate creativity, and help you complete tasks more efficiently, clearing the pathway for success.
How to Combat Sleep Exhaustion
Sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing, and there are a number of steps you can take to combat sleep debt and overcome the pitfalls of hustle culture. The first step is to make sleep an absolute priority.
Establishing a sleep routine is one way to reset your body’s internal clock and generate a healthy sleep-wake cycle. For example, avoiding caffeine in the late afternoon, eating a healthy meal rather than a fast-food or processed one, and turning off any electronics just before bedtime can help you get in the mood for sleep. It may also be helpful to incorporate journal writing, meditation, or breathing techniques for sleep into your daily routine to get you back on course. Doing so may help relieve any anxieties you’ve experienced during the day.
Taking a nightly sleep supplement can also promote sleep and help you reclaim deep rest. At RealSleep, our personalized sleep solution combines a proprietary blend of plant-based ingredients such as CBN and melatonin, to provide true, restorative sleep — naturally. If you’re interested in learning more about how to take control of your sleep cycle and start getting real, blissful sleep tonight, take our personalized sleep quiz and try our proven sleep formula today.