Getting enough sleep is not a luxury reserved for the weekends or when you’re on vacation. Sure, we’re more likely to get a good night’s sleep when our schedules feel less cramped, or when there’s an inviting hammock swaying between two palm trees. But the reality of daily life is that your schedule is likely crowded for the long haul, and vacations only happen every so often throughout the year. You owe it to your health to get a good night’s sleep every night. Your body will thank you for it, too. It turns out that sleep has some very important connections to your health. Simply put, you can’t afford to skimp.
If your inventory of the Monday morning conference table summons up images of bleary-eyed employees pouring a third cup of coffee to stay awake, or blotting away the cold symptoms they’ve been unable to kick, it’s probably time to rethink your organizations’s health management strategies. And it’s probably time to include a sleep program.
The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. In fact, the World Health Organization describes sleep as a basic human need. Without sleep, a person’s health, safety, quality of life, and performance become radically compromised. Decades ago, smoking cigarettes, overindulging in alcohol, driving without a seatbelt, and forgoing sunscreen were not only socially acceptable, but instead wryly celebrated as living life to the fullest.
While individual claims of “not needing sleep” or sleeping very little each night are still met with public approval, research now overwhelmingly demonstrates that insufficient sleep has drastic, negative impacts on health, safety, and human performance. Researchers have shown that enduring 24 hours without sleep, or a week of sleeping only four to five hours nightly, induces a physical, emotional, and cognitive impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1%.
Modern culture sets unrealistic expectations for 24/7 stimulation, propelled by artificial stimulants and never-ending access to technology and globalized social networks. Extremely long workdays create an unhealthy cycle that involves overindulging, sleeping in, and sedentary weekend activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared insufficient sleep to be a public health epidemic.