Sleep and Productivity: What You Might be Missing

When we get busy, sleep is often the first thing that gets sacrificed in the name of getting more done. But that strategy may be backfiring and costing you productivity. What’s more, getting enough sleep is important to a wide range of factors in our lives – not just productivity. Today we’ll dive into the connection between sleep and productivity.

Studies have found that good sleep habits lead to increases in focus, quality of life, productivity, energy levels, health, and the quality of our work. When we get busy, I understand the temptation to sacrifice our sleep schedule – and sometimes that can’t be avoided. But we should be striving to create good sleep habits for the sake of our health, our careers, and our sanity.

Healthy Sleep Habits

Most adults need somewhere in the vicinity of eight hours each night – but every person has their own unique needs. Some people can function well on six hours and some need a bit extra to feel their best. But eight hours is a good baseline to determine what works for you.

An unhealthy schedule will yo-yo back and forth – where you don’t get enough sleep one night and you overcompensate later with too much sleep. And yes, too much sleep can be just as damaging as not enough. While a good sleep schedule is consistent and predictable – allowing your body to get into a rhythm.

Tips for Developing Good Habits

Just like any habit, developing a healthy sleep schedule will take a commitment to changing. But these tips will help you develop a sleep schedule that lets you get the most out of each day:

  • Exercise – Not right before bed, but find a time during your day to get some exercise. Even if it’s just a walk around the block, getting your body moving will help you feel more tired at night. If you’re holding pent-up physical energy at the end of the day, then it will be hard to relax at bedtime.
  • Plan for Tomorrow – Stress is often a barrier to sleep. So, deal with any lingering mental stress by making a list of goals for tomorrow. By getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, you can rest easy knowing you’re not going to forget something important.
  • Meditate – Another great way to let go of the day’s stress is through meditation. I’m not saying you need to be a Zen Master – just find a simple meditation method that helps you get re-centered after a long, stressful day. There are plenty of apps out there that offer guided meditation to help you get started.
  • Be Consistent – Going to bed and getting up at the same every day will train your body to know when to start shutting down for the night. I know it’s hard, but this includes weekends too. I’m not saying you should be in bed by 9pm on a Friday night, but those 3am nights aren’t doing your body any favors.

Overcoming Sleep Struggles

For me, I don’t struggle to fall asleep. The challenge I face is maintaining a consistent schedule, but if you’ve tried the above tips and are still struggling there are two additional things to avoid that can help you get into a healthy sleep rhythm.

  • Don’t Multitask in Bed – If you struggle to turn off your brain at the end of the day, then make sure you only use your bed for sleeping. By working, watching TV, or reading in bed; you are sending mixed signals to your brain. When you associate your bed with sleeping, it is easier to get in the right mindset before bed.
  • Turn Out the Lights – Your body is wired to associate darkness with sleep. Leaving on the lights will limit your body’s natural ability to produce sleep-inducing melatonin. The worst type of light is the blue-spectrum light that comes from your phone or tablet. Your brain will interpret that light as sunlight and think it still work-time. If you absolutely must use your phone in bed, then get a blue-light filter app to give your phone a more calming yellow glow.

Get to Sleep

While trying to reset your sleep schedule, there are bound to be restless nights and struggles to overcome. But the payoff is worth the effort. A life that is built around healthy and consistent sleep habits will be more productive and will provide a higher quality of life. So get to it – sleep that is.

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