The effects of Lack of Sleep

In the cycle of a burnout, the lack of sleep compounds the other elements defining the burnout. Lack of sleep is a by product but also a decision that is made in order to try and achieve greater performance when those are dwindling.

If you have been following my weekly calls, you know that there are 12 steps that leads to a total burnout:

Freudenberger’s 12 phases of Burnout

  1. The compulsion to prove oneself
  2. Working harder
  3. Neglecting one’s needs
  4. Displacement of conflicts
  5. Revision of values
  6. Denial of emerging problems
  7. Withdrawal
  8. Obvious behavioural changes
  9. depersonalization
  10. Inner emptiness
  11. Depression
  12. Burnout Syndrome

Neglecting one’s needs is step 3 in the cycle. And one of our primal need is the need to sleep, however for most of us, sleep is the first thing that gives when we are in a pinch. We can always sleep more later, right!?

But science says otherwise….

In an article in this month Scientific American, Robert Stickgold describes the effect of One sleepless night.

One sleepless night is not a lot, the subjects of those studies are usually student (So one can assume they are young! :-)) and the list is staggering:

  • Reduced immune function
  • Hormonal imbalance leading to a reduced ability to the body to process glucose in the blood (a process that is managed by insulin) leading potentially to diabetes and obesity
  • Impact on the emotional memories especially the positive one leading to negativity and depression but also lack of focus.

All this from one single sleepless night….

The article concludes that

“If you do not get enough [sleep], you could – besides being very tired – wind up sick, overweight, forgetful and very blue.”


When facing a deadline, and all the tasks needed to be done before then, one might look at the amount of time required to finish all the task to specification and know that something is going to have to give. There is no other way! But then, if one is in a burnout process, the “normal” self-protection mechanisms are failing, and the person is likely to consider that prioritising and letting go of certain aspects that are not essential is impossible. They may also consider that giving up on one or many aspects to a project because of time constraint will reflect negatively on them. Similarly asking for help in the form of support staff or more budget to hire out would be considered admitting that they are not good enough and their own insecurity deprives them of that option.

So they are left with the only option in their mind, which is to draw more upon their own personal resources, neglecting more and more their own wellbeing in an attempt to cover as much ground as possible. The first thing that usually happens is longer hours and working from home in order to try and keep up with the self-imposed rhythm.

What happens however is that this usually has a negative impact that negates the intended effects of longer working hours and fewer hours of sleep. The person is more tired, which in turn leads to being less able to focus, less able to memorize and therefore create a steady and constant loss of efficiency through out the process.

In this burnout cycle, the person will consciously or unconsciously realise that their work put out is not as high as it used to be, when rested, but rather than recognising that they need to step back and rest to re-engage at a productive level, the person is likely to conclude that they just need to push a little harder and will reduce their sleeping time even further.

Creating a vicious cycle…

In addition, even if people don’t reduce willing their sleeping time, the anxiety and stress associated with the project and the fact that people feel that they are under performing, leads to increase level of worries especially at night when they are not busy anymore, leading to insomnia. They are likely to suffer from insomnia at this stage, trying to find a solution to their conundrum. Which will have similar effects to lack of sleep…

Lack of sleep (because of reduced amount of sleep or because of worries and insomnia) compounds the other effects in the burnout cycle, leading people to reach the breaking point sooner rather than later.

What can you do?

The number of articles that deal with how to improve your sleep is endless…

Creating routines, not watching TV in the evening, reducing the amount of caffeine and other coke like drinks during the second part of the day, relaxing and meditating, drinking herbal teas designed to  relax and induce sleep, listening to music, increasing the level of physical activities during the day, being outside more often than not…. And the list goes on and on and on…

But I remember wondering this is great and good, but how do I get my mind to shut down, so that I can sleep. How can I just close my mind and tell it to stop working and creating lists and finding solutions and worrying about what is going to happen the day after and so on so that I can sleep….

This was my problem. I could not sleep because my mind was always in overdrive. And this problem still arises from time to time, even today when I am not in the burnout cycle.

That when I found that EFT or tapping is a great way to relax and to “let go” of the worries of the day and the worries about the future.


What I do is that I do a few general rounds of tapping about relaxing then I tap while I tell the story of what has happened during the day that is still very current for me at the time I am going to sleep. Then, when I feel that the day’s events are not bothering me anymore, I turn my focus on what my worries are for tomorrow. And I tap on those again telling a story. Sometimes I even rant! :-)  It can take as little as 5 minutes, or as long as 15, but when I am finished, I feel serene and so relax that I go to sleep almost immediately.

Sounds too good to be true? It did for me! But I have tried this method time and again and it works.

So join in on Thursday, 22nd October at 9pm London time to listen in to my weekly webinar which topic is sleeplessness and its effects. :-)

Click here to reserve your sit for our weekly webinar!

Can’t wait for you to join in.

With care



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