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How Sleep Can Help You Get Along With Your Boss

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Your professional relationship with your boss can make or break work. To improve it, get enough shuteye.

TracyAnne, a VP of Marketing and Communications, for a fintech company, has been working 20 hours days the last week. The other day she got into a verbal argument with the company head, who speaks a different language. 

"While my argument was sound, looking back, if I had had enough sleep, I probably would have realized earlier that we were having a language miscommunication issue, and all it required was for me to take a step back and explain things again," says TracyAnne.


In a study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, researchers from Indiana University and the University of Washington found that sleep quantity might affect how well employees get along with their superiors. 

In one part of the study, the scientists asked 86 pairs of bosses and subordinates at companies in Brazil to fill out surveys at the end of the work day. 

The surveys included questions about the participants' sleep duration the night before, their relationships with superiors or employees, gender, age and current mood, among other factors.


The less sleep an employee got, the lower their boss ranked the relationship between the two. And the less sleep a boss got, the lower their employee ranked the relationship quality.

For another experiment in the study, the researchers recruited 120 employees and their 40 bosses at a large legal services firm in Brazil. The scientists then administered a survey similar to the one they had used in the first experiment. Again, the researchers concluded that a shortage of sleep negatively affected how bosses and employees viewed their relationships with the other party.

In both parts of the study, hostility induced by insufficient sleep explained the link between sleep and professional relationship quality. People who don't get enough sleep — 7 to 9 hours per night, according to Sleep Number® — may become unkind to their bosses or employees, which in turn sours the other party's perception of the sleep-deprived individuals.

Moreover, previous research published in Organizational Psychology Review has shown that sleep deprivation reduces a person's ability to suppress negative emotions — such as hostility — which may further influence how well they get along with others.

"If I don't get enough sleep, or if I don't sleep soundly, I tend to be a little more irritable/ less patient with people. And, because a boss tells you what to default I get defensive if I'm tired. A restful night = a more peaceful person," adds TracyAnne.


The solution? Brush up on your sleep habits. Try the free 30-day Sleep30® Challenge by Sleep Number which helps improve your sleep quality and sleep habits.

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*Based on internal analysis of sleep sessions assessing sleepers who use multiple features of Sleep Number® products. Claim based on sleepers achieving over 15 more minutes of restful sleep per sleep sessions.

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