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More Work, Less Sleep: A recipe for burnout.

Somewhere throughout the years, this notion has been formed that if you aren’t busy, you aren’t doing enough with your life – you aren’t as good as the person whose schedule is booked from sunrise to sunset. You add more and more to your “To-Do” list to gain a sense of pride and accomplishment; however, more work can lead to less sleep.

I was one of two speakers at Walmart’s 2014 Women in Leadership Seminar, where the theme was “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work.” The presentation revolved around the similarities between sports teams and teams in the workplace. After I spoke about the importance of teamwork, Atiya Abdelmalik – MSN, RN, CWPC – spoke about “Staying Fit for the Game” (taking care of your health). She provided us with a quote I will never forget: “Don’t sleep on sleep.” As Atiya continued to speak, she emphasized the importance of sleep and the critical role it plays in our mental and physical health.

I went through a phase this last year where I felt so proud and accomplished getting only three hours of sleep because of my busy day, full of work and progress. But, the truth is, that’s not accomplishment – it is poor time management and unhealthy behavior. It is a recipe for a burnout.

It’s perfectly fine to enjoy your work and to continue striving for your personal greatness; however, you have to make sure you take care of yourself. One of my favorite quotes is: “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Without our health, we have nothing, so why do we tend to make that last on our list? If you continue to short yourself on sleep, your mood, energy and overall productivity will be altered. You think you’re losing sleep to get more done, when in reality, you’ll be able to work more efficiently and effectively with the correct amount of sleep. Your mind will function at it’s best!

So, what changes can you make throughout the day so that you get the sleep you need?

I think 95% of it boils down to how we organize our priorities. There are some things that require a sense of urgency and others that do not. For those who have that “Go, Go, Go!” mentality, everything is urgent. Try writing down your priorities at the beginning of the month or week (whichever you’d prefer). Then, take it day by day and of course, adjust as you need to. As you review your list, put your action items in order according to their priority level. By gaining control over your responsibilities, you can breathe easy knowing that you’re aware of when each task needs to be completed by.

Just like many things, it takes practice and discipline to see a result. You must practice waiting to take action on something until the next day. Soon, you will realize that you can in fact wait a night’s sleep before getting it done. Wake up with energy and ready to go!

“Don’t sleep on sleep.”

– Jen

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