Dr Breus: Can you really sell sleep if you are sleep deprived?

By Michael J. Breus, PHD, The Sleep Doctor

Dr BreusHow do you sell sleep? I’ve written about this subject many times in this column and speak on the topic regularly at industry meetings. But the question I always ask retail sales associates and sleep shop owners is, “How did you sleep last night?”

I think I am asking the wrong question. The question I should be asking? Can you really sell sleep if you are sleep deprived?

Before you answer, let me share some new research with you. Two preliminary studies presented at a recent professional meeting point to the relationship between sleep deprivation and social interaction. When you are sleep deprived two things appear to happen. First, the sleep deprived person seems to look sadder to those around them. You may think you feel great, but your sleep deprived face may look otherwise. A second study showed that sleep deprived individuals had a more difficult time responding emotionally to others, particularly to sadness.

We already know that lack of sleep affects performance (when you are tired it’s just hard to be on your A-game all the time). But could that lack of sleep have you missing important cues you need to see in your customers? Or affect their perception of you by how you look? If your sleep deprivation is interpreted as sadness, customers may shy away. You may think that it doesn’t show, but if you aren’t getting the sleep you need, your customers will know! And subconsciously, it is likely having an effect on your ability to be consistently as successful in selling as you would like to be.

It’s not as easy as you might think to know if you are really sleep deprived. In our 24/7, always on, always connected society, we often accept the signs (and effects) of sleep deprived behavior as “normal” or “just the way things are.” We’ve developed a form of social jet lag. Our bodies and minds are regularly out of sync with the normal biological rhythms that our bodies crave to function at our best. How do you know if, and just how badly, sleep deprived you could be?

I am going to toss out a challenge to help you find out. This challenge has two parts. First, take the self-scoring quiz to determine if you are sleep deprived, and get some immediate, simple suggestions on ways to help.

Second, take the online survey here. The survey uses a standard screening tool used by sleep specialists to assess daytime sleepiness. I’ll report the results in my next column, with more information on what you can do to get more sleep.

Your customers will know if you are trying to sell them something that doesn’t ring true. Just how sleep deprived are you? You really want to know. It just might help you and your customers.

Visit www.thesleepdoctor.com.