Why Texting in Bed Can Be Bad for Your Career

Last Updated Mar 7, 2011 4:23 PM EST

In news surely being celebrated at Starbucks' headquarters, nearly two-thirds of Americans say they aren't getting enough sleep, while a new study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 35 percent of us slog our way through the day on less than the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep. And it seems that the gadgets we're bringing into bed with us may be to blame. According to the new survey from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) about 40 percent of us text in bed in the hour before we turn in, with the study noting that bed-texters are more likely to say they don't get enough sleep.

Somewhat paradoxically, staying connected to the office from bed could be bad for your career. A persistent sleep deficit makes you less productive, and the sort of crank who doesn't collaborate well with colleagues.

Here's how you can, um, sleep your way to the top:
  • Shut down the gadgets. Watching television in bed has always been a popular pre-sleep ritual. Indeed, 79 percent of NSF survey respondents say they watch television in the hour before they try to go to sleep. But now, more Americans are engaging with interactive technology: 40 percent say they are working on their computer in bed, 38 percent report texting in bed, and 19 percent are dealing with work-related emails (39 percent say they are emailing with friends and family.) Sleep researchers say these kinds of devices may not be as sleep-inducing as passively watching late-night TV, or gulp, actually reading. "Unfortunately cell phones and computers, which make our lives more productive and enjoyable, may also be abused to the point that they contribute to getting less sleep," says Russell Rosenberg, head of the National Sleep Foundation's 2011 task force.
  • Stop fooling yourself that you can self-caffeinate your way around the issue. Sure, a Trenta of coffee will likely provide a jolt, but it's only masking the fact that you're exhausted, and that's going to impact your work performance. More than 70 percent of survey respondents who say they aren't getting enough sleep admit the lack of sleep impacts their work -- and those are just the folks willing to be honest about what's going on. As MoneyWatch reported, a lack of sleep hampers our ability to make smart decisions, increases our propensity to make mistakes, and generally leaves us with the cognitive acuity of someone who is drunk. (MoneyWatch's Robert Pagliarini offers a dissenting view on the need to get more sleep. ) Moreover, another 85 percent of the sleep-challenged respondents to the NSF survey admit it impacts their mood. Crankiness and a shorter-temper are not exactly tickets to career advancement. And for what it's worth, catching a bit more sleep can have other residual benefits; 61 percent of respondents who aren't getting enough sleep say it's impacting their "intimate or sexual relations."
  • Disconnect your kids, too. Parents of teenagers should be very concerned how their kids' connectivity may be clouding their ability to excel at school. Nearly 50 percent of teens between the ages of 13-18 say they rarely/never get a good night's sleep, compared to 38 percent of their Boomer parents and grandparents. The electronica of choice for teens in the hour before sleep? Seventy-two percent of teens say they are glued to their cell. Ideally, you'd want to get them to do something less interactive in that time. You should also try to negotiate that they at least mute the text alerts and phone ringer. Nearly 20 percent of teens say their sleep is interrupted at least once a week by an incoming text or call. A little less connectivity might be one of the best ways parents can help their kids boost their performance at school -- let alone their mood around the house -- and get accepted to their top college choice. Teens texting and driving is also a large and growing problem.
Photo courtesy Flickr user quinn.anya
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  • Carla Fried

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