How Sleep Fuels Sales and Leadership Performance
Home 9 Leader's Digest 9 How Sleep Fuels Sales and Leadership Performance

by | Feb 10, 2022 | Leader's Digest

What is one of the most beneficial things sales leaders can do starting right now that will have a direct impact on the bottom line? They can talk to their teams about getting enough sleep.

The average sales team loses 14% of their monthly revenue due to lack of sleep. It is the foundation of one’s ability to perform and directly affects your mental, emotional, and cognitive capabilities. It also directly affects your ability to be an effective leader. How you sleep is truly one of the most important things you have control over as a human being. But despite the hours of research connecting sleep and productivity, it is not often prioritized.

According to researchers and sleep professionals at Rise Science, there are two laws of sleep: sleep debt and circadian rhythm.

Sleep Debt

Sleep debt is the amount of sleep you owe your body over the past two weeks or so. It’s a running total of the hours of sleep you’ve missed relative to your sleep need. Everyone’s daily sleep requirement is different, but most adults fall within the 7–9-hour range, and if they don’t hit that, their performance suffers. To illustrate, this article states, “People who slept just six hours per night for two weeks functioned as poorly as if they’d gone without sleep for 48 hours.” Even scarier yet—they thought they were performing at the top of their game.

The chances are high that you and/or your sales team members are carrying around sleep debt that’s impeding productivity and performance, even if no one feels tired. And the more debt that accumulates, the worse the outcomes will be.

Circadian Rhythm

The second law of sleep, circadian rhythm, is likened to your body’s internal clock. This clock dictates your ideal sleep and wake times, eating habits, energy ebbs and flows, and several other bodily functions. The takeaway here is that working with your circadian rhythm leads to better sleep hygiene, whereas working against it (going to bed at vastly different times each night, for example) means you’re at risk for insomnia/sleep disruptions, metabolic changes, and more.

Sleep lays the foundation for everything you do while awake. It can be the difference between success and failure for your sellers, and it can most certainly be the difference between success and failure as a leader.

Here are a few ways lack of sleep can impact your ability to manage your team:

  • Emotional reactivity. When you’re short on sleep, your IQ may stay the same, but your EQ is going to plummet because the emotional part of the brain shuts off. Under these circumstances, you may be more vulnerable to mood swings, more likely to act on feelings instead of logic, less likely to feel optimistic, and less likely to show empathy. Further, sleep also affects your ability to inspire, motivate, and relate to those around you.
  • Cognitive function. The brain’s prefrontal cortex directs functions such as problem-solving, reasoning, organizing, and planning, which are behaviors leaders rely on heavily. But neuroscientists have found the prefrontal cortex cannot cope well under conditions of sleep deprivation.

There are many uncontrollable factors when it comes to sleep(kids, pets, etc.), but there are plenty of things we can control as well. For example, things like regular exercise, limiting caffeine (especially in the afternoon/evening), putting away your cell phone or other electronics while in bed, and establishing a regular wind-down routine are all ways to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. Also, you may consider utilizing a sleep app or tracking device (Apple Watch, etc.) to measure the amount and quality of your sleep and to help you improve your daily sleep habits.  

How to Lead (and Sleep) by Example

If you want to be a better leader of a high-performing team, you need to start with sleep. Do what you can to help make sure your team is well-rested and ready TO WIN.

  • Don’t be the leader that sends out late-night emails (hint: they get read because, well, they just do). If you must write a late-night email, use a delayed-delivery option so you model the correct behavior for your team.
  • Watch out for team members who do send out late emails or appear to be working into the wee hours of the morning regularly.
  • Discuss with your reps the importance of being well-rested on the job. Show your support of people taking care of their sleep for the betterment of their personal lives as well.
  • Bring it up in one-on-ones and see how each of your team members prioritizes sleep. A simple, “Hey, how are you doing/feeling? How are you sleeping?” before jumping straight into the business will go a long way. Everyone has some experience with sleep because it’s vital to every single human being. You may be surprised how well received this topic is.

If it wasn’t clear before, hopefully, it is quite clear now. Sleep is the foundation of your ability to perform, and every call, meeting, and email is a performance. If you are not performing your best because you’re in sleep debt, it’s hard to expect your team to follow suit. Sales and leadership success begins and ends with sleep.

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