Sleep Deficiency Associated with Leadership Failures

Business leaders be wary. A recent survey showed that 43% of business leaders do not get enough sleep for at least four nights a week which can hinder leadership role and eventually affect the company’s financial performance. The survey included 180 business leaders and four out of ten leaders, or 43%, had sleep deficiency issues.

Experts believe that leadership behaviors are developed in the prefrontal cortex part of the brain. This “executive functioning of the brain”, according to a psychologist, is critical for business leaders because this is where the high-order cognitive processes take place.

The survey highlighted that business leaders’ performance tasks, after 17 to 19 hours of wakefulness, were equivalent to a person with a blood level of 0.05%, the legal drinking limit in most countries. And after 20 hours of staying awake, the equivalent percentage goes up to 0.1% blood alcohol level.

Conversely, when sleep is deficient, the brain is likely to misinterpret emotions on other people’s faces, and the tone of their voice. The person may overreact to emotional events, and that expressed feelings can be negative.

In fact, according to one research finding, individuals who do not have enough sleep are less likely to trust someone else, “and that employees feel less engaged with their work when leaders had a bad night,” the report said.

On the other hand, the survey found out that a good night’s sleep leads to new insight. “Sleep is beneficial for a host of cognitive functions that help us solve problems effectively, including insight, pattern recognition, and the ability to come up with innovative and creative ideas “. (

Similarly, an afternoon nap was found helpful to enhance creative problem solving. One research result revealed that creative thinking is likely to take place during dream sleep, “enhancing the integration of unassociated information and promoting creative solutions.”

Moreover, science has it that sleep has been shown to improve decision-making. “Enough sleep allows an individual the ability to weigh the relative significance of different inputs accurately, to avoid tunnel vision and reduced cognitive balance.”

With the possible outcomes from the sleep deficiency, business leaders and organizations alike are encouraged to find ways to improve sleep efficiency, developing training programs aimed at creating awareness and behavioral changes, and to evaluate the company policies to pave ways for a good night’s sleep for their leaders and employees, the report concluded.

Reference: Nick van DamEls van der Helm, There’s a Proven Link Between Effective Leadership and Getting Enough Sleep,


Author: Amabelle Equio,  Ph.D candidate in Nursing at Silliman University, Health, Fitness, Medical Writer, Photography Enthusiast.


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