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Most of us struggle to accomplish all that needs to be accomplished at work within designated work hours. But let’s be honest. These days, designated work hours are representing a smaller and smaller portion of our time spent working.

We start checking emails before we roll out of bed in the morning, work through lunch, stay late at the office and continue to work from home at night. We sacrifice just about every other aspect of our lives to maintain this pace – family time, vacations, workouts and meals.

And sleep.

Unfortunately, the employer you’re trying so desperately to please by working endless hours isn’t exactly reaping the rewards. In fact, research from Harvard University suggests American companies lose more than $63 billion in lost productivity as a result of sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation has a negative effect on the part of the brain that controls innovation and creativity. In other words, working extra hours may help us accomplish routine tasks, but it hampers our ability to come up with ideas and solutions to problems. This is what really creates competitive advantages in business.

Another obvious effect of sleep deprivation is stress. A Huffington Post study asked people what causes them stress, and the top answer was “getting too little sleep.” Respondents said stress makes them feel overwhelmed, inadequate, frustrated, exhausted and anxious. These feelings aren’t exactly conducive to productivity.

According to the study, when schedules and responsibilities become overwhelming, sleep tends to become the most negotiable item on the to-do list.

Here’s the problem. You can add as many hours as you want to the workday, but if you don’t have the energy to be productive, many of those hours will be wasted. This kind of lifestyle is physically unsustainable.

The human body isn’t designed to be the Energizer bunny. There needs to be a balance between expending energy and recovering energy. This is why countless studies have shown that solid sack time improves not only alertness, but job performance and productivity.

How much sleep do you need? It depends on the person.

Believe it or not, some people can function perfectly fine on four or five hours of sleep. Some of us need eight or nine hours.

There is no magic number. If you sleep for six hours each night and feel groggy for a good portion of the next day, try sleeping for seven hours. And if you have an employer that will allow a half-hour power nap in the afternoon, that’s even better.

Ultimately, the energy we bring to work shines through in our productivity and performance, not the number of hours we work. By getting more sleep, we can get more done in less time and live a more sustainable, enjoyable lifestyle.

So instead of pushing yourself harder, go to bed and get some sleep.

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