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You’re not getting enough sleep.

After twenty years of working in the field of human resources, I think that lack-of-sleep accounts for a majority of work-related problems and conflicts.

I have an inbox of inquiries from readers who can’t get along with coworkers, have difficulty articulating their ideas, and can’t connect with a sense of passion or meaning. And the language used to describe these problems is exaggerated, hyperbolic, and absurd.

People who get enough sleep might feel irritated about work because they are adults; however, they don’t have the types of issues that are in my email account. I’m contacted by people who are having extremely irrational meltdowns and disrespected and displaced by colleagues, vendors, or even local executive teams.

So that you know, a “local executive team” is never truly an executive team. People who get enough sleep can see that a local executive team is a name to make a regionally-confined group of people feel better about themselves. It’s a trick. They have nowhere else to go in the company, or they can’t relocate. You should laugh at those suckers who take pride in such a bullshit system meant to appease people who have limited internal mobility.

But, no, you’re going to freak out.

When you’re rested and balanced, it’s easier to analyze what’s happening, prioritize the situation, and determine if a response is vital. And if an answer is required, a person who gets enough sleep doesn’t plot revenge. Or, if she does, it’s the kind of revenge where you give no fucks, and you live your best life out in the open.

Every poor decision I’ve ever made in my life can be attributed to lack of sleep. Yelling at my partner. Being irritable and disrespectful to colleagues at work. Eating like crap during the day and then eating like crap once I was home from the office. Pumping myself full of drugs — for my wacky digestive system, for my mood, for my irrational life — instead of getting more sleep.

Getting enough sleep means designing a life where you can rest. And for a while, it was hard for me to believe that I was the only one responsible for resetting my body clock. But once I committed to more sleep, the rest of my life fell into place.

So, how do you get over insomnia-anxiety-life-is-too-busy-kids-suck sleeping patterns? Lots of proper research on how to get more sleep. Eliminate caffeine. Get more cardio earlier in the day. Drink more water. Get to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time in the morning. No electronic devices for a few hours before bedtime. Don’t do anything other than sleep in your bed. If you can’t sleep, practice mindfulness.

The best advice that was given to me? Create a simple mantra to repeat in my head when I wake up in the middle of the night. Say it over and over again until I fall back asleep. So, whenever I wake up, I tell myself—I’m happy, I’m safe, I’m loved.

Corny, but I say it no more than a few times, and I’m back to sleep. It truly works. Do you have a mantra like that? Could you try it?

If you have kids, you might also accept the fact that you’re not going to sleep normally for a while and design other aspects of your life to be less stressful. If you know that you can only sleep four hours each night because a three-year-old dictator runs your life, why are you overscheduling your days?

All of my insights and advice are useless if you don’t choose to prioritize your wellbeing and take back your sleep-cycle. We’re all victims of a busy world, and competing interests fracture our attention and energy for our time and attention. But if you don’t choose sleep, nobody will choose it for you.

And the longer you walk around like a zombie, the more you suffer. Isn’t it time to try something a little different and get another hour or two of sleep? I’m rooting for you, and so is my email inbox.

One Response to Career Advice: Get More Sleep
  1. Chris Rosenau

    Yep. Spent Sunday and Monday sitting by a cheesy hotel pool, scanning blue sky looking for the cloud that would endure from horizon to horizon. Slept from 10 to 10 both days and welcomed the tangible, altered state. Love the basic in this. Package sleep, call it a drug, call it scarce, call it luxury and maybe it’ll take off. Though some would probably argue that sleep has become a privilege, I’m not buying it – you’re naming the self induced.