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How Sleep Can Make You a Stronger Leader

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Take These Steps to Detach and Unwind

Experts around the globe are begging people to get more rest. And with good reason. The scientific evidence about the importance of sleep is staggering — and yet, most people don’t get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Long days and busy, activity-filled lives are the norm for many people, and sleep is often sacrificed. Some take pride in being non-stop, won’t-sleep-much workplace warriors. But most people aren’t choosing to shortchange sleep.

“In fact, when I present sleep research to leaders, most of them talk about wanting more sleep and how can they get better sleep,” says CCL’s Cathleen Clerkin. “A big problem is that thoughts of work are interfering with sleep. People are ruminating about their day, worrying about work, or anticipating the next day.”

Our study of 384 leaders showed that many people try to sleep but are having trouble doing so. Notably, nearly 1 out of 4 reported that work-related issues kept them awake at least a few nights a week. We also found that:

  • 23% are troubled by work-related issues.
  • 22% analyze or dwell on recent events at work.
  • 20% worry about upcoming events or issues at work.

In the study, the inability to psychologically detach from work was one of the biggest predictors of sleep problems, even when controlling for things like age, individual differences, and lifestyle factors like exercise or caffeine consumption.

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