Is Sleep Really A Small Price To Pay For Your Success?

You’re a high performer delivering on the roles and responsibilities of an incredibly challenging job, I get that. I also realise that you’re competing against many other high performing employees in the workplace, so you’ve got to put in that extra effort to shine. I understand that you’ve got a demanding personal life and that you may feel like you’re neglecting the ones you love. And yes, I was also once guilty of believing that with so much to do in so little time, the only way to get it all in is to cut down on your sleep.

Now if you’re one of the 5% of the population that are naturally short sleepers and can thrive with as little as 4-5 hours of sleep each night, then that’s absolutely fabulous for you. Chances are, however, that you’re probably somewhere in the 95%, and like the rest of us, who need between 6 and 9 hours to be our best.

If you’re running like Martha Stewart or Donald Trump who lead the 5% pack then this post is not for you, but if you’re running like Martha Stewart or Donald Trump and have been noticing a few cracks in the wall, answer these 20 questions to see whether you have been depriving yourself of much needed sleep and as a result unknowingly jeopardising the very success you’re sacrificing so much to achieve.

Just answer yes or no to these questions as honestly as you can.

  1. Do you struggle to stay focused or to concentrate on something for an extended period of time?
  2. Do you find yourself being a bit forgetful during the day?
  3. Do you need your caffeine, energy drinks or energy boosters to keep you alert?
  4. Do you regularly find that the mistakes and questions of colleagues seem silly and irritating?
  5. Do bad driving, heavy traffic, long queues, inefficient and impolite people make you really angry?
  6. Have you heard people say that you’re grumpy or a bit moody?
  7. Do you often snap or shout at people?
  8. Do you feel a bit down, unmotivated, tense or sad?
  9. Do you think colleagues may be afraid of talking to you?
  10. Do people ask you if you’re ok or why you’re looking a bit sad?
  11. Do you find yourself being left out or excluded from meetings, parties, dinners, celebrations…..people just don’t seem to want you?
  12. Do you often eat comfort foods like pizza, puddings and sweets instead of healthy well prepared meals?
  13. Do you have feelings of being unappreciated even though you’re doing so much?
  14. Do you wish you had enough time to go to gym, have a hobby, go to the spa, have your hair done or just spend ‘me’ time?
  15. Do you sleep less than 7-9 hours on a regular basis?
  16. Do you feel like you’re drowning under the weight of your work load?
  17. Do you feel guilty about not spending enough time with loved ones?
  18. Would colleagues prefer to ask a question of someone else rather than ask it of you?
  19. Do you feel misunderstood?
  20. Do you wish you had more time?

Scoring on this test is pretty straightforward. Give yourself 1 point for every YES response and add up your total score.

You scored less than 10

You may be tired occasionally, but it’s you’re not chronically sleep deprived. Perhaps you could reflect on whether your time and people management skills are where you would like them to be and put a personal development plan in place.

You scored between 11 and 15

You may not be a Donald Trump or Martha Stewart – and that’s ok! Getting an hour or two of extra sleep each night will not only improve the way you feel but it will most likely improve your productivity and people engagement too. So stop making excuses, plan to rest more each night.

You scored 16 to 20

Definitely time for change! Not only are you setting yourself up for long-term failure, but you’re also putting your health at risk. I know you’re a fabulous person, but you’ve hidden your glory behind a veil of complete exhaustion. Make a decision to reclaim the original you and start today by planning to sleep more every night.


While these 20 questions don’t form the basis of some scientific test, it is comprehensive enough to highlight a cause for concern. If you scored more than 10, you owe it to your present self, your future self, your loved ones, your colleagues and your employer to decide and commit to making a change.

Sleep is a way to re-charge your mind, body and soul and prepare you for the productive use of your energy in the day ahead. By depriving yourself of much needed sleep on a regular basis, not only are you harming yourself but your workplace performance will suffer. Chronic sleep deprivation is an easy way of putting at risk the very success you’ve been working so hard for.

About the Author:

Chartered Accountant (SA), certified brain-based coach, life-long learner and corporate veteran with 16 years+ field experience in a global ‘Big 4’ Audit firm, Usha Maharaj, is a woman on a mission to bring more happiness into your life through her moto “Reject Average. Strive for Excellence.” Usha uses her wealth of knowledge to help you take on any professional challenge.

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