A bunch of years ago, sales was a horse of a different color.
Back then, your average rep would throw on a three-piece suit, pour himself (yes, it was primarily men back in the day) a bourbon - neat, of course - and have himself a day, finished off with a T-bone and maybe two or three dirty martinis before he passed out on the lazy-boy.
Back then, the salesmen's "lifestyle" of burning the candle at both ends -topped off with a night out with the boys, of course - was a badge of honor.
Well, this isn't Madmen, Jon Hamm.
Fast forward to today, where beanie-loving sales reps who work at investor-fueled, hyper-growth startups are more likely to slam down a green juice and go for a run at lunch than they are to dive into the bottle.
For the most part, today's high-performing reps are nothing like their Don Draper, get-it-done-by-any-means predecessors.
But do you want to know how they are similar?
Do you want to know how Kellen, Elizabeth, and Emma are the same as Donald, James, and Stanley?
Here it is:
They have some serious sleep problems.
And it impacts sales performance in every single sales team at every company you know.
We know what you're thinking...
"Not at (fill in the blank startup ending with -ly, -ify, -io)."
Don't believe me?
According to our research, 60% of sellers struggle with sleep, and over 29% say they are always tired.
Even more shocking? 92% of sellers think a lack of sleep impacts their ability to close deals.
Now, before you go ahead and ask your boss for a day off to sleep, let's dive into the data and understand what's happening.
At LEON, we provide comprehensive people reporting and analytics - in less than 3 minutes a month - to help you measure key engagement and well-being statistics over time, including sleep, mental health, capacity, resourcing, and teamwork.
Then we analyze that data to generate robust, actionable insights to help create the happiest and healthiest generation of employees ever.
For this report, we analyzed over 75,000 data points, primarily based in North America and the European Union.
Before you go and cancel all your upcoming calls and decide to take a week off to catch up on some Zzzzzzz, let's have a chat to understand what may be impacting your sleep.
Sales pros aren't just staying up later or binge-watching Netflix every night. There are a few key signals that do seem to have a very high correlation with poor sleep:
74% of employees say most of their stress comes from work deadlines/company expectations.
52% of employees are drowning at work.
While not surprising in the least (we all know that stress and workload impact sleep), what is surprising is how closely related the two are when looking at sleep issues during times of self-reported "high stress and high workload."
While these numbers are interesting, we admit that sleep and stress issues are multi-faceted and that work may not be the only signal of poor sleep. As a matter of fact, when looking at individual insights such as happiness, work-life balance, and physical health, all three tend to trend up or down as sleep trends in any specific direction: a typical chicken or egg problem.
But here is what we do know.
Removing any clinical sleep diagnoses from the equation, sleep is a lifestyle problem that is somewhat impacted by work-related stress.
Our brains and bodies are built based on the 24-hour natural light and dark cycle. When we alter this cycle or get insufficient amounts of sleep, we are increasing our risk for various illnesses and safety risks.
Below are some examples of research findings related to these issues:
Dr. Mark Czeisler, a Ph.D., research fellow at the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, says that;
"Insufficient sleep is undoubtedly associated with adverse mental health symptoms and dysregulation of functional brain activity that's going on during sleep. When we miss sleep, the amygdala, a part of the brain involved in emotional reactions, goes into overdrive. A study using MRI brain scans found that the amygdala was around 60% more emotionally reactive in participants in a state of acute sleep deprivation compared to people who were usually sleeping and well rested. So, when you're short on sleep, your ability to respond to potentially emotionally intensive events is compromised. And what's worse is that heightened emotional reactivity related to amygdala hyperactivity is paired with dysregulation of another brain area called the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision making. And so not only do you have an overactive amygdala, which is making you more emotionally reactive, but the prefrontal cortex is less able to integrate that information and control impulses."
On a company level, helping to support healthy sleep patterns in your employee populations is easier said than done. Still, there are a few fundamental changes managers and organizations can make to better support the well-being of their people.
Our general recommendation is to sleep 7-9 hours each night and also to go to bed at a consistent time. By having inconsistent sleep routines, we are causing ourselves similar challenges that we would experience from jet lag; therefore, consistency is essential.
There are naturally some individual differences in our need for sleep. Still, it is essential to understand that a sleepy brain does not even realize that it is not performing well, and we can't always judge how tired we are. Remember that small changes can make a big difference, and adding even 15 minutes per night to your sleep can be beneficial.
Another issue that we have to understand regarding sleep is that we need to prepare for it well for our sleep quality to be good. Many of us struggle with falling asleep or waking up during the night, and poor quality sleep can be just as harmful as insufficient sleep. We have put together a list of a few simple tips that can help you to prepare well for sleep and improve your sleep quality:
Remember that sleep is essential behavior, and we have to prioritize it in our lives. So keep making minor adjustments to your daily routines that will gradually take you in a good direction.
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2) Hargens et al. Association between sleep disorders, obesity, and exercise: a review. Nature and Science of Sleep. 2013 Mar 1;5:27-35.
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