What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?

When preparing some updated content for our course entitled ‘Enhancing your Resilience’, I came across this great TED-ed video that shares some useful facts about sleep.

We all know that sleep is a fundamental core need, but did you know how important?

Experts suggest adults need somewhere between 7 and 9 hours a night, and teenagers between 8 and 10.  If you don’t get enough sleep, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite.

Self control, attention and memory will suffer. We are less prepared to concentrate, less prepared to make decisions, find it more of a challenge to regulate our moods and are less able to engage fully in our activities.

And interestingly, a lack of sleep causes the stress hormone cortisol to increase even if there is no stress trigger present!

If you want to know more about what happens to our bodies when we don’t get enough sleep, watch this 4 minute TED-ed video. Then scroll below to see some tips to improve sleep.



So how can I get more sleep?

These are some ideas suggested by the National Sleep Foundation :

  • Stick to a sleep schedule – try to keep roughly the same bedtime and wakeup time (even on weekends)
  • Avoid naps in afternoon (a 10 min power nap is ok to decrease fatigue and increase alertness but it might make night-time sleep difficult)
  • Exercise daily
  • Evaluate your room – it should be cool, dark, and with no noise or distractions
  • Sleep on comfortable mattress and pillows (<10 years old)
  • Use darkness to help produce melatonin – a key regulator of circadian rhythms (no TV or laptop in bedroom)
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and heavy meals in evening (2-3hrs heavy meals, 4-6hrs stimulants) and cut down water in-take before bed
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual away from bright lights to wind down (eg reading, a warm shower before getting into cool sheets)
  • If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you are tired – not an electronic device!


Paying attention to sleep – and other factors in the physical side of resilience can help you to improve your wellbeing – and be a more effective leader / contributor at work. If you’d like to know more about Resilience or our Enhancing you Resilience program, click the hyper links.