Want to be more productive at work? Get a good night's sleep
Sleep is the best meditation. – Dalai Lama
Getting the zzzzzzs you need every night is extremely important for prolonged sleep deprivation can have profound consequences on your physical and mental health. Most of us need around eight hours of good quality sleep every night to function optimally, but the figure can vary from person to person.
Whatever your quota may be, it’s important you get it. Proper sleep has been associated with a better mood, increased energy, high level of innovation, an improvement in working memory capacity, and better decision-making. The downsides to not getting enough sleep include:
More sick days
A recent study in the journal Sleep revealed that sleeping fewer than five hours or more than 10 hours a night is linked to staying home sick for 4.6 to 8.9 more days than those whose sleep hours vary between seven and eight hours a night.
Loss in productivity
In a 2012 Journal of Vision study, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital found that the more sleep-deprived you are, the slower you get at getting work done.
Hit on economy
Your sleep deprivation can have consequences on the company’s bottom line. A Harvard study reported by Health.com stated that sleep deprivation could be costing the US economy $63 billion each year due to lost productivity.
Dip in salaries
Research published in The Wall Street Journal showed that an extra hour in average sleep over the long run is linked to a 16% bump in salaries, for those not getting enough sleep.
Predictor of burnout
A 2012 study published in the journal PLOS showed that fewer than six hours of sleep is a predictor of job burnout, and may lead to “difficulties detaching from thoughts of work during leisure time”. The study suggested that stress wasn’t to blame; recovery from stress was.
Dr. Lawrence Epstein, chief medical officer of Sleep HealthCenters, believes there are no stock sleep solutions, and it takes some trial and error to find what works for you.
But it’s important that you do because sleep is “a basic biological necessity—just like eating—and it has an impact on every aspect of your health and your life.”
So how do you get the shut-eye when it’s playing elusive? Try these tips:
Stick to a sleep schedule
Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning—even on weekends —keeps your biological clock steady. Exposure to a regular pattern of light and dark is known to help, so open up those blinds or head to the balcony right after you get out of bed.
Exercise at the right time
Working out is known to improve the length and quality of your sleep, especially if you include cardio in your exercise fix. But remember that vigorous aerobic exercise can elevate your body temperature and keep it up for about four hours, inhibiting sleep. So time your exercise session right.
Cut back on caffeine
It may seem innocuous but caffeine can be a potent stimulant, one that stays in your system for eight hours. You may need your cappuccino or Americano to get through the work day but having it post 4 pm could wire you up. Tea and cola contain caffeine too – so consume judiciously.
Set up your space
Apart from a comfortable mattress and pillow, experts recommend setting your bedroom thermostat between 65° and 75°F for good sleep. Slipping between cool sheets is known to trigger a drop in body temperature, which leads the body to produce sleep-inducing melatonin. Certain smells, including lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang, relax the mind and body, and help you sleep more soundly.
Plan a sleep routine
Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post, emphasizes the importance of winding down before hitting the bed. In her book, The Sleep Revolution, she writes that good sleep makes “everything better”. Here's her four-step nightly ritual: ditch the devices, take a hot bath, dress for bed and read a book. Giving the body time to transition from an active day to sleep time sets you up for better sleep.
The Sleep.com website suggests that if “you’re feeling drowsy during the day and don’t want it to compromise your work performance, one solution is to try taking a catnap for 10 to 20 minutes”.
Sleeping on the job is not always a bad thing!