One thing I’ve learned is that even losing one hour of sleep or just not sleeping well degrades my ability to handle stress. It feels wimpy to say that, I should be able to handle losing an hour of sleep! Maybe I’ll get to a point where it won’t, but I suspect it’s just how I’m wired and so I have the option of acknowledging it, or not.
Losing an hour doesn’t degrade me a lot, maybe 5 or 10%. I can still follow conversations, deal with the routine and even fairly high stresses that come up gracefully. If I’m down more than an hour (or have been sick), it does down from there. On 4 hours sleep I can work but dense topics and decisions require a lot more effort to get done, and I don’t have much patience for anyone that is making life hard for me for what I consider – in my degraded state – trivial reasons, and I’m a lot more likely to push back instead of working through it.
I’ve seen the same in a lot of people on my current project. They are up a lot of nights, and they come in or call in for my daily meeting and they get combative at the drop of a hat, and they lose their ability to do out of the box thing – too tired to work smart.
I can’t always get the right amount of sleep or avoid being sick, but I know when I walk into work whether I’m at 100% or not. If I’m not it’s ok,but I mentally remind myself that it will change my behavior unless I actively manage it. That’s more energy needed when I have less! It’s not that much though,and having that awareness – and sometimes announcing it (“I’m tired today”) – has saved me from a lot of mistakes that involve people conversations. Technical work is easier, I can spend extra time reviewing and thinking, it’s less volatile. Conversations can go south in a hurry with one or two bad sentences.