We’ve all heard the phrase “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.

Often these are wise words. They encourage us to question the authenticity of what’s being sold to us – be it a concept or a physical item.

But there are exceptions to the rule and I have the perfect example.

What if I told you there was a magic pill available that would boost your immune system, give you more energy, make you more attentive, help you keep fit, lower your carb cravings, boost your mental health and make you happier? And it’s free. Would you take it?

I haven’t launched a new business selling snake oil. The wonderfully tempting supplement I’m referring to is, in fact, sleep.

Yet despite all the incredible things a quality sleep can do, too many of us underestimate it.

Likening sleep to a magic pill was the inspired idea of Dr Matthew Walker who wrote New York Times number one bestseller Why We Sleep. In it he discusses the staggering percentage of young adults that skip their "daily dose" and he discusses society’s apathy towards sleep.

In one of the best and most detailed books you’ll find on the topic, he presents scientific evidence in such a compelling and engaging way, extolling the benefits of a great sleep while laying out some hard truths on the damage poor sleep can cause.

It’s important to put the emphasis on the word "quality", as that’s that part so many of us get wrong.

Some people grab a few hours then power their way through a caffeine-filled day and think they’re being efficient. Some force sleep with alcohol or sleeping pills. Others applaud themselves for having a mammoth sleep session but in reality too much sleep comes with its own list of health dangers ranging from headaches to depression and a range of health conditions.

If you don’t get some quality shut-eye, whether you’re having too much or too little, you can end up in a vicious cycle.

You’re exhausted so you may skip breakfast and trudge through hours of work without a break. You’ll probably grab something quick and easy at lunch and choose something unhealthy to cheer you up and give you an energy boost.

Later you’ll get sluggish and when you finally down tools, you can’t be bothered exercising so instead you’ll pour a gin and tonic or two as a reward for a hard day and park yourself in front of the TV all night. And so the cycle continues.

You need to turn that around so you’re in a virtuous cycle, putting a good sleep at the top of your agenda to boost your health and productivity, and indeed performance. What follows are better habits and healthier choices, increasing energy, fitness levels and general well-being.

Giles Watkins, a former colleague, is a sleep expert and the author of Positive Sleep. Giles believes that on top of all the other physical and mental pitfalls of poor sleep, those in a leadership position will find four key areas affected – results orientation, problem-solving, seeking different perspectives and supporting others.

Morale is already low as we navigate the personal and professional challenges the pandemic has brought, so don’t let poor sleep compound these challenges.

Take it one small step at a time and get into a positive cycle of creating good habits, and watch it do wonders for your physical health, mental health, motivation and business performance, and impact positively on those around you.

In a time where so much is outwith our control, sleep is one thing we can and must prioritise – go ahead and take that magic pill.

Laura Gordon is a CEO coach and group chair with Vistage International, a global leadership development network for CEOs