The Real Key to Productivity? Sleep.

Figures like Bill Clinton and Arianna Huffington have spoken publicly about the deteriorating effects of sleep loss in our personal, political and work lives. When will we learn to rest well?

What's the Latest Development?


Not all waking hours are created equal, particularly when it comes to business. The longer you stay up, the more your returns diminish. We've known this for a long time. Studies done as early as the 1880s demonstrate that after 40 work hours per week, productivity declines because we spend more time fixing our mistakes, which we make due to our fatigue. "It seems so logical that two units of work will produce twice the output," says entrepreneur and author Margaret Heffernan. "Logical but wrong."

What's the Big Idea?

There are sound physiological reasons for why staying awake longer means poorer productivity. When you become fatigued, your brain's thalamus becomes more active, expending energy just to keep you awake. At the same time, your parietal and occipital lobes, which are responsible for processing sensory data, lose glucose, making it harder to concentrate and make accurate judgements about the world around you. When you are low on sleep, you are bound to have a bad temper, bad diet and make bad decisions.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

7 fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.

Photo by Raunaq Patel on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
  • Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
  • These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
Keep reading Show less

Why the number 137 is one of the greatest mysteries in physics

Famous physicists like Richard Feynman think 137 holds the answers to the Universe.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • The fine structure constant has mystified scientists since the 1800s.
  • The number 1/137 might hold the clues to the Grand Unified Theory.
  • Relativity, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics are unified by the number.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists discover how to trap mysterious dark matter

A new method promises to capture an elusive dark world particle.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) devised a method for trapping dark matter particles.
  • Dark matter is estimated to take up 26.8% of all matter in the Universe.
  • The researchers will be able to try their approach in 2021, when the LHC goes back online.
Keep reading Show less