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How Does Sleep = $$?

If you’re not meeting your sleep need, you’re leaving money on the table.
Reviewed by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
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We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
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We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.
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As a seller, your compensation is performance-based: your base salary is a reflection of past and/or projected performance and your variable income is contingent on deal flow or success against quota. Put another way, the amount of money you make is inextricably tied to your performance--if you perform well, you make more money. (And of course, conversely, the less impressive your performance, the less you’re bringing home each month.) 

What does this have to do with your sleep? Well, everything, as a matter of fact.

How well you’re able to do every single aspect of your job is entirely dependent on how much sleep you get.

If you're not sleeping well, (or even if you're sleeping pretty well, but regularly not getting as much as your body needs) there’s no way you’re performing at your ceiling. If you’re not performing at your ceiling, then you're absolutely leaving money on the table. 

A big claim, we know, but hear us out.

How sleep debt sidelines your sales game

The impact of sleep on how we function can be make-or-break at any job, but this is especially true for salespeople. Successful selling requires you to be mentally sharp and sustain high levels of emotional and social intelligence. As luck would have it, these precise faculties are most vulnerable to the ill-effects of short-sleeping. 

One helpful way to look at sleep’s impact on sales performance is to break down sales activities into two categories: quantity and quality.  

Quantity refers to the day-to-day productivity component of selling, which is measurable and indicates the likelihood of later success (e.g. the number of emails sent, calls made, meetings scheduled, follow-ups attempted, etc.)  

Quality is what one might call the “je ne sais quoi” of selling. These subjective skills add value to your quantifiable output. They include things like your capacity for problem-solving, your creativity and insights, trust-building and empathy with clients, level of engagement and accountability. Quality is what ultimately distinguishes a good seller from a great seller.

Unfortunately, the grim truth is that all of these skills (whether it's how many cold calls you make or how compelling you are when you get your prospect on the phone) are equally torpedoed by lack of sleep. 

When you’re sleep-deprived, your ability to focus becomes impaired almost immediately. This is bad news for your productivity, since focus is a key driver in churning out the daily calls and emails necessary to hit your activity quotas. Evidence shows that when the brain is under strain from lack of sleep, attention as well as auditory and visual reaction times quickly diminish, which means that everything takes you just a little bit longer. While each individual lapse in attention might seem insignificant, it adds up over time and your output suffers.

Similarly, sleep debt impinges on the quality component of your performance by hindering the social-emotional aptitude needed to truly excel in your role. For instance, lack of sleep interferes with your ability to empathize with others, which makes it difficult to build and sustain meaningful relationships with clients. Undersleeping has also been proven to negatively influence charisma, and makes us less capable of reading people’s emotions based on their facial expressions. Sleep debt also hijacks your confidence, positivity, and emotional resilience, so you’ll be less equipped to bounce back from rejection, and less inclined to put yourself out there day after day.

Chances are good that you’re underslept even if you don’t feel tired

A staggering 70% of Americans identify as sleep-deprived, and most of us actually overestimate the amount of sleep we get each night.This means that even if you think you’re getting enough sleep and meeting the letter of law at work, odds are you could be doing even better.

If you’re skeptical, that’s to be expected. Biologically, we are evolutionarily programmed not to recognize signs of sleep deprivation in ourselves. Our brains have evolved to acclimate to our own fatigue in order to keep us alive. Back before Netflix, noise pollution, and synthetic lighting, there was little reason not to sleep fully each night. In the rare instance that we did miss out on sleep, it was because something was seriously amiss in our environment. While our higher-level faculties would still be impaired--we weren’t as sharp, fast, or focused, and we weren’t as proficient at problem-solving or communicating--instead of setting off alarms, our brains would tell us everything was fine so we could survive another day.

Surviving isn’t thriving. When you’re sleep-deprived you won’t even realize you're not operating at full cognitive capacity. You acclimate to the effects of sleep debt and think you’re doing just fine at work and elsewhere. This tendency makes the cycle of chronic sleep loss tough to see, let alone break.

Most of us probably know how terrible it feels to pull an all-nighter. And, as adults with demanding jobs, it’s something we try to avoid at all costs, understanding how our productivity and mental and physical health can suffer for days afterward. And yet, research shows that consistently getting six hours of sleep a night (roughly two hours less than the average adult sleep need) for 14 consecutive days can result in the same decline in performance as pulling two all-nighters in a row. The only difference is that over the course of 14 days we’re able to adjust to our fatigue. So we don’t feel like we’ve been awake for 48 hours--but the effect it has on us cognitively, emotionally, and socially is just as dire...if not more so, for our lack of awareness.

Consider this sobering finding:

Most of us know how terrible it feels to pull an all-nighter--the way our productivity and mental and physical health suffer for days afterwards. As adults with demanding jobs, we try to avoid this at all costs. Yet, research shows that consistently getting six hours of sleep a night (roughly two hours less than the average adult sleep need) for 14 consecutive days results in the same decline in performance as pulling two all-nighters in a row. The only difference is that over the course of 14 days, we have the opportunity to adjust to our fatigue. We don’t feel like we’ve pulled two all-nighters in a row but the cognitive, emotional, and social effects are just the same.

That’s just 6 hours of sleep a night--which for many of us, probably seems like a decent night’s sleep. For those of you who think you can get by on even less, the amount of money you’re leaving on the table is quite frankly enormous. For those of you who think you can get by on even less, the amount of money you’re leaving on the table is quite frankly enormous. In reality, the overwhelming majority of adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to be at their best. Of course exceptions do exist, but they’re incredibly rare. (Let’s put it this way: you’re more likely to get struck by lightning in your lifetime than you are to possess the “short-sleeping gene” that allows you to sleep 6 hours or less with no ill-effects.)

On a final note, studies show that when it comes to these ill-effects, the margin for error extremely narrow. Even just 16 minutes of short-sleeping can negatively impact your concentration, and lead to an increase in feelings of stress and instances of conflict the following day.

The bright side of sleep’s impact on sales performance

While the reality of sleep might seem overwhelming, there’s far more good news to share. In fact, bettering sales performance and increasing revenue is really just as simple as adding a bit of extra sleep to your daily to-do list. 

Just as a night of short-sleeping can be nontrivially harmful to your health and productivity, sleeping an extra 45-60 minutes each night can exponentially boost your sales game--delivering sizable returns when it comes to job performance, mental health, energy levels, mood, and longevity.

Beyond the scientific studies, we have real-world proof: in an 8-month controlled trial we did with a F200, sellers were invited to use RISE to track their sleep, with an end-goal of reducing sleep debt. For those sellers who opted in, by the time the trial concluded their outbound activity had increased by a whopping 50%, with monthly revenue increases averaging 14%.

As previously mentioned, humans are grievously bad at subjectively assessing fatigue. With RISE, you can objectively track your sleep need, keep a running tab on your sleep debt, automate reminders for prioritizing bedtime and effectively plan your days around your natural energy levels. The tool for successfully managing your sleep and productivity is RISE.

Sleep is the bottom line

Unlike other sales solutions and activities that guarantee an ROI, sleep is one of the simplest, easiest, and cheapest ways to see more upside. It is not an indulgence. On the contrary, it’s the one thing you can start doing tonight that will measurably boost your sales success almost immediately. 

It may seem counterintuitive at first--if you prioritize time in bed over hours spent prospecting, following leads, and staying ahead of the competition with late-night rapid-fire email responses, how will you make more money? But even with this mindset, you still have to agree that when it comes to sales, volume does not equal value. For instance, you’d rather have a handful of reliable, high-yielding clients than a hundred on-again-off-again contacts. Or, as another example, one true partnership over a dozen one-and-done vendor-level interactions. 

The same is true for hours in your day. Meeting your sleep need might tighten the timeline for your day’s to-do list, but it will also make your timeline more efficient. Keeping your sleep debt low is about maximizing the quality of your sales performance and achieving your potential at all waking hours.

The more seriously you take your sleep, the better you’ll be at your job. The more successful a seller you are, the more revenue you’ll be raking in. It’s that simple. 


Sleep better. Sell more.

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About Rise
Rise is the only app that unlocks the real-world benefits of better sleep.

Instead of just promising a better night, we use 100 years of sleep science to help you pay down sleep debt and take advantage of your circadian rhythm to be your best.

Over the past decade, we've helped professional athletes, startups, and Fortune 500s improve their sleep to measurably win more in the real-world scenarios that matter most.

Rise Science is backed by True Ventures, Freestyle Capital, and High Alpha; investors behind category winners Fitbit, Peloton, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

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