Getting good and adequate sleep every night should be the priority for all of us, especially when you’re suffering from a lack of productivity and want to boost it. For most of us, more work and work stress are equal to poor sleep quality and insufficient quantity. However, it’s good to remember that even though work stress can affect sleep negatively, it also works against us when we’re looking to get stuff done.
Oftentimes sacrificing sleep for work sounds like the best way to accomplish the task. Right? However, sleep deprivation will lead to lost productivity and in the end, you end up working more to make up for the loss of productivity. Sounds like a bit of a vicious cycle.
Creating boundaries between personal life and work gets even more challenging when you’re working from home - you might be feeling this a but more intensely past 1-1.5 years with this pandemic.
The aim of this blog post is to highlight the links between sleep and productivity to empower you with the knowledge needed to break the cycle of sleep deprivation > lack of productivity > working more to make up for lost productivity.
WHAT DO STUDIES SAY ABOUT SLEEP AND PRODUCTIVITY?
Sleep is a key factor for proper muscle recovery, promoting fat loss, improved athletic performance, cognitive function, and last but not least “ PRODUCTIVITY”. A strong body of studies suggests good sleep quality and quantity significantly boost productivity. A study from 2017 investigated the association between sleep and productivity on 598,676 employed adults from multiple sectors and industries. Findings show that the employees who reported 8 hours of sleep have minimal productivity loss, proving the positive relationship between sleep and productivity.
A study from National Center for Biotechnology Information explains that if a person is working while under-slept, it can leave the person feeling more irritable and vulnerable to stress. Under-sleeping also changes our emotional reactions in stressful or negative situations, leading to behaviours like overreaction which can carry over into home life, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Especially when you’re working from home, this stress can directly impact your home life and relationship with the members of your household. As a result of increased connectivity, we’re able to work from home easily, however, it often blurs the line between work life and personal/home life. The real problem arises when people start sacrificing personal needs for work which leads to chronic sleep loss - correlated with anxiety and depression. The good news is, a study shows that individuals who are able to psychologically detach themselves from work after clocking out have fewer negative effects of work-related stress.
CREATING GOOD HABITS, NOT RESTRICTIONS, FOR BETTER SLEEP TO IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY?
Review your priorities: As we spoke before, most of us sacrifice sleep in order to finish work, socialize, etc. If this is becoming your habit maybe now it’s time to start creating boundaries between work and personal life.
Improve Your sleep hygiene: Sleep hygiene is all about fostering good habits that promote restful sleep. Optimize your bedroom environment, create a consistent sleep schedule and a bedtime routine, eliminate any habits that make it more difficult for you to sleep such as limiting caffeinated drinks after.
Switching electronic devices off: The blue light from laptop and phone screens can lower the production of melatonin, a hormone that is responsible for the sleep/wake cycle (also, it has an influence on muscle gain and recovery). That’s to say, shutting them down 1-2 hours before you go to sleep is a big step to take.
Have an early dinner: Going to bed with a full stomach is not the most comfortable thing. At the same time, going to bed too hungry can be distracting. So it is good to finish up your eating session 2-3 hours prior to bedtime.
Timing of caffeine intake: There is nothing better than a cup of coffee in the morning. But let's keep that in the morning. Getting caffeine in the afternoon or evening blocks sleeping-related chemicals in the brain and makes us feel more alert (by increasing adrenaline in our blood).
HAVING A HARD TIME WITH SLEEP?
What should I do if…
"...my partner snores?"
Wear earplugs. Sleep in separate rooms if it's really bad. Or consider asking your partner to sign up for a sleep study; serious snoring can point to sleep apnea, a condition that could be compromising the quality of their sleep.
"...I need to work at night?"
If you work a graveyard shift, you can still adopt all the above practices—just do them during the day instead of at night. The toughest one will be keeping the light out, so get blackout light-blockers for your windows.
"...I wake up in the middle of the night and can't fall back asleep?"
This is a common and maddening problem. Often the problem stems from irregular sleep patterns (e.g., sleeping in some days and waking up early others, or taking long naps during the day). Try to create a regular, nap-free sleep schedule for at least a week and see if the problem persists.
"...my mind won't slow down when I close my eyes?"
Other than obvious solutions (like not drinking caffeine within 10 hours of bedtime), you might want to consider a relaxation technique like gentle yoga or meditation. The popular meditation app Headspace recently launched a whole sleep-focused meditation package that can help quiet your busy mind.
There's no grey area here: Good sleep improves productivity. You can read study after study that shows the same thing, or you can trust your own common intuition. Do you do your best work on three hours of sleep?
And it's not just that a good night's sleep will improve your work for a single day. Improving your productivity can actually improve your sleep, which improves your productivity—and so on, in a virtuous cycle.
Ready to start putting a focus on your sleep and productivity? Apply for our coaching program today!