Good leaders sleep well

Enlightened leaders know: a great day starts the night before, not from the buzz of that first cup of coffee or tea. However, while caffeine may get you up and moving, especially on cold, dark mornings, it takes a good night’s sleep to properly fire up cognitive functions such as problem-solving and creative thinking. Good sleep is also essential for physical health, as well as for regulating emotions and maintaining resilience in the workplace. Key qualities of any effective, productive and respected boss. 

How lack of sleep affects leaders

A great night’s sleep also boosts a leader’s capacity to make sound, considered business decisions. Research shows that even a moderate lack of sleep can render a person’s focus similar to that of someone that’s drunk1. After 17 to 19 hours of sleep deprivation, a person’s performance is similar to someone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05%. Longer periods of sleep deprivation results in performance levels equivalent to a BAC of 0.1%. Being effectively ‘drunk on the job’ will inevitably impact decision-making and subsequently business success.  

But it doesn’t stop there. Sleep deprivation can weaken your moral compass, by undermining your self-control and ability to regulate emotions. This can negatively impact the way you behave. Studies suggest that by regularly under-sleeping by just two hours a night, your moral awareness typically drops by 10%2. This loss of self-regulation can result in unwanted behaviours ranging from impulsive decision-making to lying or misrepresenting the truth. In an age of greater workplace transparency and accountability this can have a detrimental impact on a leader’s and company’s reputation, growth, and success. 

The fact is tiredness is bad for business

No amount of coffee will help make up for lost sleep. However, leaders often fail to look after their own wellbeing (sleep being the foundation of health and wellbeing), which they need just as much as anyone if they are to identify and address issues timely and appropriately, expertly integrate new insights, inspire others to perform well and retain valued employees. Research implies sleep-deprived bosses tend to be less charismatic, more impatient and exhibit abusive behaviours 3 the day after a poor night’s sleep. Hardly the sort of boss anyone wants to work for – or perhaps needs to work for – at a time when employees can more easily pick and choose where they work. 

How I can help

Avoid the pitfalls of sleep deprivation and lift leadership performance through the power of good sleep. My workshops help business leaders develop the healthy mindset and sleep habits needed to think clearly, focus better, make good decisions and be a better boss. 

All courses are tailored to individual needs but are typically split into two halves: 

Understanding why sleep is important 
Find out why sleep quality is important for being a happy, healthy, highly productive leader – and why your staff will ‘thank you’ for having a good night’s sleep. 

Learning the habits for good sleep 
Understand the factors impacting your sleep, identify where you can make changes and learn the strategies that will change your sleep for good.

Learn more about leadership sleep coaching or contact me here.


Dr Kat


1A M Williamson, A M Feyer. Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication

2O K Olsen, S Pallesen, E Jarle. The Impact of Partial Sleep Deprivation on Moral Reasoning in Military Officers

3C M Barnes, L Luccianetti, D Bhave, M S Christian. “You wouldn’t like me when I’m sleepy”: Leaders’ sleep, daily abusive supervision, and work unit engagement