Even after one night of not enough sleep, our thinking slows down, our creativity suffers, and our coordination gets off kilter; it’s everything that a presenter needs for a good talk. Getting more sleep, not less, will help you become a better speaker.
In his book, “The Promise of Sleep,” Dr. William Dement talks about a concept called “sleep debt.”
He explains, “Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get. It’s a deficit that grows every time we skim some extra minutes off our nightly slumber.”
Let’s say you are someone who needs 8 hours of sleep each night but on Tuesday night you get only 6. Well, even if you get 8 hours a sleep for the rest of the week, you’ll be carrying around those extra 2 hours of sleep debt!
We’ve all experienced. We have a bad night and the rest of our week seems off. We aren’t as productive at work and we zone out during meetings. Maybe our attention to detail suffers. The ultimate cause is the sleep debt we’re carrying. If we continue to not get the required amount each night, then we keep adding to that debt.
Many people think they can catch up on their sleep through naps, yet Dr. Dement found that wasn’t possible. Rather, we have to tack on the sleep debt to the longer periods of sleep to catch up. Our brain has to enter that deep REM sleep in order to take on the debt owed.
So how do you know if you have sleep debt you’re carrying?
There’s a pretty easy test that you can do each night.
If you lie down to go to sleep and fall asleep instantly, you are carrying some sleep debt! Essentially, your brain is saying to your body, “We need to go to sleep NOW!” If you stay awake for about 10 or 15 minutes, then you’re fine.
There are plenty of sleeping tips out there and that’s another article for another day. Become a better speaker by recognizing if you’re getting enough sleep. You’ll feel better and perform better for your next presentation.
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Photo credit: Moyan Brenn: flickr