Supply Chain Performance and…Sleep?

There is a growing body of knowledge that suggests without a full 7-8 hours of sleep, none of us are working to our potential.

It’s no surprise that supply chain planning and operations are among the most complex processes in business. This is because everything in supply chains are based on cause-and-effect relationships across multiple supply chain partners and often multiple regions of the world. Add to this, the complexity of optimizing planning, production, logistics and inventories with complicated algorithms, software, and decisions and you can see why the brightest and best performers are often found in company supply chain functions.

To be a top performer takes the right education, experience and brainpower to make the supply chain respond to ever-changing global business conditions. Supply chain personnel must be in tip top mental shape, alert and available to handle the inevitable challenges and emergencies which are part of our daily life.  But getting enough exercise, fresh air, healthy food and sleep are often challenges in our busy lives balanced with family and other commitments. Yet all of these ingredients are essential for top performance.

I will be the first to admit that I skipped the gym on many occasions due to my workload and ate less than healthy meals. I lived for years on 4-5 hours of sleep per night (normal in the consulting world) and was proud of my stamina and ability to work 18-hour days.  I am notorious for middle-of-the-night Skype calls with China. But there is a growing body of knowledge that suggests without a full 7-8 hours of sleep, none of us are working to our potential.  Which makes me wonder what more I could have accomplished over my 35-year career if only I had gotten more sleep.

I just finished reading The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington, CEO of the Huffington Post.  She makes a great case for how we have become a culture that treats sleep as wasted time and as optional. But more and more professionals are making the connection between sleep and performance.  We already know that truck drivers and airline pilots can be dangerous when they don’t get enough sleep. Collegiate and professional athletes and Olympians are now tracking their sleep patterns against improved performance results. Some athletes have recorded as much as 8-10% improved batting averages, basket shots made and race times when they get eight or more hours of sleep.  In addition, academic scores improve and in a corporate setting, decisions are better.

So how is our performance as supply chain professionals affected when we don’t get enough sleep?  Are we alert to the changes that affect our supply chains? Are we making the best decisions? Are we as productive as we can be throughout the day?
Are you up for a challenge?  Try sleeping 8 hours every night for a week and see for yourself how much better you feel and how much your productivity improves. Just like me, I think you will be quite surprised.