Why sleep is important for good leadership

Good leadership is more than having a title or position of authority; it also involves a set of skills and behaviours that inspire and motivate others to achieve a common goal. Leaders are found in all walks of life; from football teams, military service and hospital wards to small family run businesses (like ours!) and multinational corporations – and everything in between.

Leadership skills and Sleep

Some of the most well-researched skills for leadership include problem-solving, cognitive function and communication. There is a common belief that the best leaders are those who work very long hours, burning the candle at both ends, however research has shown that to be truly effective, a leader needs good, restful sleep. When we are sleeping, our brain processes our experiences, forming pathways to help us learn and create new memories. Sleep also helps to fight infections when we aren’t feeling well. Being tired through lack of sleep - especially long-term sleep deprivation - will slow cognitive function, adversely affect concentration, and makes us feel irritable, all of which can result in poor judgement and stress. This doesn’t just impact on the leader themselves but will also ultimately affect their team and overall performance. In some roles, a tired leader with loss of concentration can lead to serious consequences.

Communication and Sleep

When leaders are well rested, they are more able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly, which leads to better decision-making processes and creates a positive atmosphere in the work environment. Research has also shown that sleep plays a role in non-verbal communication, such as facial expressions and body language. Being well rested also allows leaders to better control their emotions and avoid unintentional non-verbal cues that may impact on effective communication to and within their team.

Ensure a good sleep environment

Getting into ‘sleep mode’ is easier if a few simple steps can be taken to get you ready for bed. It’s also important to try and ensure your bedroom is an oasis of calm and provides comfort, in terms of your bedding and keeping distractions to a minimum. Below are a few tips to help.

  • Watch what you eat before bedtime:  Caffeine, high fat, or spicy foods, in particular, can impact on the quality of your sleep, so try to avoid these late at night. Although alcohol may seem to help you get to sleep, it disrupts the all-important REM cycles, so try herbal teas, such as those containing valerian, camomile, or Redbush (Rooibos). Redbush tea is also high in antioxidants and can help with digestion, often a contributor to sleeplessness.
  • Avoid distractions: keep phones and other devices, such as TVs, out of the bedroom. The glow from these has been proven to keep the brain active and disrupt sleep.
  • Keep it cool: The optimum bedroom temperature for sleep is around 16°c – 18°c. Your body needs to cool down slightly to trigger sleep, so an overheated bedroom is likely to keep you tossing and turning throughout the night.
  • Hello darkness, my old friend: Avoiding bright lights a couple of hours before bedtime will help you to fall asleep. Also, the body’s ‘wake up’ response is triggered by light, so it’s worth having good, properly lined curtains that help to keep your bedroom darker - especially in those early summer mornings.
  • Colour me beautiful: Research has shown that certain colours can help us to feel relaxed. These include pale blue, green, light pink, white, and beige hues. For overall bedroom décor and furnishings, pastel and muted shades are typically better for sleep. Whereas colours such as red, orange or purple tend to be energising, rather than calming. In terms of walls and doors, flat paint finishes are better than eggshell or glossy finishes as they can reflect light.
  • Into the bed zone: We spend nearly a third of our lives in bed, so investing in your sleep by ensuring you have a comfortable bed and mattress is essential. The type of bedding and bedlinen you use is also very important. Always opt for natural materials as synthetic fibres or polycotton blends are generally not temperature regulating, which can cause you to overheat, thereby disrupting your sleep. Our fully traceable 100% British wool filled bedding is breathable, temperature regulating and dust mite resistant, all of which adds up to a more peaceful sleep. It’s also natural, sustainable, and chemical-free – and that’s better for you and the environment. Each duvet, topper or pillow is individually handcrafted by our professional seamstresses, here in our own workshops on the edge of Dartmoor, so you can be confident that when you’re tucked up with our bedding, it is 100% made in the UK.

For more information on our products and how they can help you achieve a more restful sleep, please get in touch with our team, either by telephone on 01752 345399 or via email.


Ref: Wellbeing World