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As we gathered at a common meeting place at 7.00 a.m. to begin our hour long drive to the location for our retreat, I saw differing states of alertness. One look at the drowsy face and lethargic movements told a tale in itself. Too little sleep. The reasons could be many: cumulative strain, working late at nights, partying into the wee hours of the morning, travelling from place to place without adequate rest etc.

If you thought too little sleep is bad for health, here’s research to say that too much sleep is equally bad for health. Too much and too little sleep is tied to ill health according to a study conducted in the US by the National Centre for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey covered 87,000 U.S. adults from 2004 through 2006.

The study found that people who sleep for fewer than 6 hours or for more than 9 hours are more likely to be obese. It also linked light sleepers to higher smoking rates, less physical activity and more alcohol use.

Our needs for sleep vary considerably. Some of us not only need less or more sleep but have differing body rhythms which find us best either in the early mornings or late nights. We call them the larks or the owls.

If you ( or your boss) is a lark: they are at the best in the mornings but tend to slow down as the day goes by. They like to turn in early and late in the evening is not a good time to present an important proposal to the lark for approval.

The owl is a night bird. While he is at his worst early in the mornings, he is at his best late in the evenings. Don’t schedule an early morning meeting with the owl. The dice is loaded against you.

You know yourself best. Are you a lark or an owl? It’s a good idea to observe your boss and find out his/her preference too.

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This is the 158 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success

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