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Want to Do Better at Work? This 1 Thing Might Really Help.

By Maurie Backman - Feb 7, 2020 at 10:02AM

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Hint: It's something that'll improve your health, too.

Did you establish a new set of career goals for yourself this year? If you did, you're probably in good company.

Maybe you're hoping to finally get promoted, or get assigned a high-profile project that will make you more visible within your company. Or maybe your goal is to simply be more productive at work, or get more organized. No matter what objectives you've set for yourself, the ticket to being successful could boil down to one factor that you actually have the ability to control: sleep.

What can ample sleep do for you?, an online sleep resource, ran a survey last year to see how sleep correlated to workplace success, and not shockingly, it found that generally speaking, good sleepers achieve 30% more goals than bad sleepers. Furthermore, good sleepers are two times more likely to achieve their career goals than those who don't sleep enough.

Professionally dressed man yawning


What defines a good sleeper versus a bad one? In this survey, bad sleepers got an average of five hours and 36 minutes of sleep per night, while good sleepers averaged seven hours and 10 minutes. Interesting, even the good sleepers here are only hitting the low end of the seven- to nine-hour-range recommended nightly for adults aged 18 to 64, according to But still, it's an improvement over roughly five-and-a-half hours, which clearly is well below that guideline.

Of course, some people do better on less sleep than others, and it's easy to argue that those who sleep less are able to do more with their time -- and that might include putting in longer hours at work to achieve job-related success. On the other hand, if you don't get enough sleep, you're likely to have trouble focusing at work, avoiding mistakes, and optimizing your productivity. But if you do manage a decent night's sleep on a regular basis, you're more likely to be better able to concentrate and power through the toughest of tasks.

Better sleep could change your attitude, too. When you show up to work well-rested, you're less likely to get stressed when deadlines are dropped in your lap, and you're more likely to get along well with the people around you. When you're exhausted, it can make you more naturally irritable, which could, in turn, compromise your relationship with your colleagues and put you on your manager's bad list.

The takeaway? Make sleep a priority, not just for the sake of your health, but for the sake of your success on the job. And if your lack of sleep stems from working late almost every night, get better about managing your time. Write up a daily to-do list that arranges your tasks in order of priority so that you'll have an easier time letting some items wait till morning once you've been on the job for 10 hours or longer. At the same time, get better about avoiding distractions during the day so you can make the most of your working hours. The more productive you are, the easier it'll be to pack up, leave, and call it a night, thereby paving the way to an earlier bedtime.

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