God created sleep not only to cure fatigue, but to serve our bodies and brains in many beneficial ways. Unfortunately, many leaders, especially pastors, try to lead without getting adequate sleep and live with a sleepy leader’s brain. When we don’t get enough, our brains don’t work as well. Thus, we don’t lead at our best.
Here’s what the experts tell us happens to our brains when we don’t get adequate sleep.
- Our memory is impaired. Sleep helps turn short term memory into long-term memory (called consolidation) by strengthening memory traces. Lack of sleep hinders this process.
- We don’t learn as well. Related to memory, when our memory is impaired, learning suffers.
- We can’t control our emotions as well. Emotional control (called emotional regulation) best happens when we think most clearly. Any lack keeps our executive thinking center (called the pre-frontal cortex) from operating most effectively.
- Creativity suffers. Our brain continues to work when we rest. One way it works is by making novel connections that don’t happen as easily during wakefulness. If you rob yourself of sleep you may be robbing yourself of creative insights that otherwise could enhance your leadership.
- We don’t recharge our brains and our bodies. The body needs to reset its physiological processes each day to keep in balance (called homeostasis). If you don’t get enough, you can keep your body from resetting its chemical balances. As a result, chronic lack of sleep can put your body in a stress state which keeps the stress hormone cortisol constantly in our system, which damages our bodies and brains.
What can you do if you believe you are deprived? I list several suggestions in this prior post where you can take a quiz and learn if you are sleep deprived.
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission. Charles Stone and his wife, Sherryl, have a heart for pastors and pastors’ wives. We’ve taught hundreds of pastors and their wives in the United States, Canada, Nicaragua, Colombia, Haiti, Cuba, and Mexico.