Sleep is one of the most underappreciated factors necessary for a productive professional life. In fact, plenty of entrepreneurs and politicians even see it as the enemy, cutting into valuable work hours, while in some professions, going sleepless is a badge of honor.
Though some might find bravado in refusing to listen to what your body is telling you, the medical and biological facts around sleep and work performance are clear. Lack of sleep causes:
- A loss of 11.3 days of productivity a year for the average worker, costing the US economy over $63 billion in total
- Lower concentration abilities and people to be more easily distracted
- Worsened memory and mood
- Workers to be 85% more likely to miss work
- Impaired work performance and poorer decision-making, on a par with alcohol intoxication
Sleep and work performance are clearly indelibly linked, yet many of us continue to push ourselves to cram more into our day by subtracting from our sleep. Long term, this not only has poor effects on our health, but also on our professional prospects. Consistently poorer performance versus expectations outweighs any possible short-term boost that our profiles might get from working longer hours to get tasks finished.
So, what can we do about getting better sleep? The field that deals with this is known as sleep hygiene, and there is an increasing amount of research being conducted into how much sleep we should be getting and how to improve the quality of the sleep we do get.
The Most Important Sleep Hygiene Tips
Keep your body on a schedule
Our bodies enjoy regularity and habits, and sleep is no different. Going to bed and waking up at regular times will help your body get into a sleep rhythm and so will start producing hormones, such as melatonin, which are necessary for sleep at around the usual time that you sleep, with the same going for waking in the morning.
Wind down slowly
Despite what a lot of business and fitness literature might suggest, our bodies are not actually machines. They are deeply complex systems of hormones, nerves and organs which need to communicate cohesive messages to all act in concert. Therefore, watching a thriller movie, playing computer games or even doing work means that your mind and body are in “switched-on mode,” ready to perform at the best of its ability. This means that sleep and slowing down the body’s functions to rest and recharge are off the agenda.
To drift more easily to sleep, it’s best to start preparing for it about an hour beforehand. This can be done by listening to soft music, lowering the lights or reading a book.
Create the right environment for sleep
One of the most important sleep hygiene tips is about creating a space that’s conducive to sleep. While bedrooms can often become somewhere you watch TV, play games, work, or a children’s playroom, its primary function should really be as a place that helps you sleep. This means removing all unnecessary lights, even the red stand-by lights on devices, keeping the room around 65 degrees Fahrenheit and having as little noise as possible enter, to allow your mind to fully switch off.
Check out some of our other productivity tips to help you get work done and have a good time while you’re at it.