Sleep: More Evidence Supporting Its Importance


Whenever I read about another piece of research supporting the importance of sleep, I am reminded of a story I heard from Condoleezza Rice at a leadership conference a few years ago.

She has a reputation for being a huge sports fan. In fact, she was an inaugural member of the NCAA College Football Playoff committee. During a trip to Iraq one February, her staff was surprised to hear that she would be going to bed instead of watching the Super Bowl that evening. The game was airing at about 2:30 am. Her response was priceless. She said, “If I’m going to be making important decisions on behalf of our entire country tomorrow, you don’t want me doing that on 4 hours of sleep.”

Rice might be on to something big.

For high capacity leaders, sleep deprivation often seems like a badge of honor. But the truth is, busier and more complex lives might call for more shut-eye, not less.

In a pair of recent journal articles, researchers explored the neurological mechanics of what goes on in our brains when we sleep. Here is their takeaway:

Sleep helps us to forget unnecessary information that we accumulate throughout the day, making our existing memories of the most important stuff more clear and efficient.

This theory is called “synaptic pruning.” It has been around since about 2003, but these recent articles add to the growing list of evidence supporting it.

In a world where we are regularly taking in more and more information, it looks like sleep might become even more important than we thought. We are not too busy to sleep. We are too busy not to.

Written By: Eric McClerren, LAPC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *