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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Jan 20, 2023


This week we explore research into why sleep matters so much for our emotional state, and tips for better sleep.



Welcome to episode 170 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership. This week we explore research into why sleep matters so much for our emotional state, and tips for better sleep.

We all know that sleep matters for our general health and wellbeing. Getting 7 to 8 hours of high quality sleep a night makes a big difference in our ability to concentrate, be resilient, and relate well with others. REM sleep, characterised by rapid eye movements and dreaming, is thought to be particularly beneficial for memory consolidation and emotional processing. Recent research suggests that REM sleep assists with the consolidation of positive emotions associated with safety, while suppressing the influence of negative emotions associated with danger. It’s thought this process helps people to maintain a healthy balance in their focus on safety and danger. A lack of REM sleep can tip this balance too much toward a focus on danger, and a range of anxiety-related disorders can result. Having an appropriate emotional balance will help greatly in the daily stresses of leadership.

Given sleep is so important, how do we make sure we’re getting enough? Here are seven tips:

  1. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. It’s tempting to vary when we go to bed and wake up across the week, but sticking to the same schedule helps.
  2. Set your bed room up for sleep. Make sure the room is dark, quiet and cool. Don’t get in the habit of watching TV in your bedroom.
  3. Avoid screens at night. The blue light from screens, particularly from phones, laptops and tablets, messes with your sleep cycle and hormones such as melatonin.
  4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours before sleep. Both can negatively impact your ability to get to sleep and stay asleep.
  5. Wind down before sleep. Most smart phones allow you to set sleep reminders which can prompt you to have a relaxing routine before bed. This might include taking a bath, reading, or undertaking relaxation techniques.
  6. Have an exercise routine. Exerting yourself physically during the day will help you to fall asleep.
  7. If you wake during the night and are struggling to fall back to sleep, get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired again. This can help your body and brain to reset for more sleep.

Getting enough sleep is an important element of effective leadership. The better you rest and restore, the better prepared you are to lead others. Have a great week.



Mattia Aime, Niccolò Calcini, Micaela Borsa, Tiago Campelo, Thomas Rusterholz, Andrea Sattin, Tommaso Fellin, Antoine Adamantidis. Paradoxical somatodendritic decoupling supports cortical plasticity during REM sleepScience, 2022; 376 (6594): 724