Sleep Is More Important To Your Productivity (And Life) Than You Think…
Sleep is essential for productivity.
Sleep is essential for productivity. The truth is, you won’t be very productive if you feel like a train-wreck because you didn’t get enough sleep. Nor will you enjoy the day very much.
Research has clearly shown that consistently getting sufficient high-quality sleep leads to better memory, improved mood, higher cognitive performance, and increased health & energy. Essentially, a good night’s sleep is the foundation of a highly productive day.
There’s this perverse notion that you need to trade hours of sleep to be successful. I think that’s complete nonsense. If you trade sleep for work, you’re not doing things right. You should manage your time, priorities, and attention much better.
You Don’t Know How Sleep-Deprived You Are
Most sleep-deprived people often claim that they can do perfectly fine on just a few hours of sleep. However, according to Matthew Walker, who wrote the best-selling book ‘Why We Sleep’, “The human mind cannot accurately sense how sleep-deprived it is when sleep-deprived.”
In other words, one of the first skills flying out the window when you’re sleep-deprived is your self-awareness and judgment.
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This is no surprise, as self-awareness and judgment are regulated by the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is one of the first areas of the brain that suffers from this lack of sleep.
In other words, those who claim to perform well on just a few hours of sleep might not notice at all how much performance they’re leaving on the table by their lack of sleep.
Increase Your Cognitive Performance By Sleeping More
Remember, in today’s knowledge economy, most of our work is done with our brains. It’s thinking, focusing, problem-solving, and analyzing, which makes the difference in our work.
In other words, it’s cognitive work that we’re doing. And simply put, your cognitive performance is much better after enough rest and a good night’s sleep. To quote Matthe Walker again, “Humans need more than seven hours of sleep each night to maintain cognitive performance.”
Study after study has shown that when you don’t get enough sleep, your cognitive performance goes down the drain. You’re much more likely to get distracted, experience brain fog, and have energy crashes that limit your performance.
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Sleep expert Phil Gehrman, Ph.D., says, “Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel that they’ve adapted to that sleep deprivation — they’ve gotten used to it. But if you look at how they actually do on tests of mental alertness and performance, they continue to go downhill. So there’s a point in sleep deprivation when we lose touch with how impaired we are.”
All in all, you can try to sacrifice your sleep and squeeze in more hours to get things done, or you can go to bed, get 7-8 hours of sleep, recharge your body & brain, and tackle your objectives with improved cognitive performance the next day.
Chances are, after a good night’s sleep, you’ll be able to get as much done in 30 minutes as you would get done in 2–3 hours of work late at night when your cognitive performance is impaired.
The Long-Term Destructive Effects Of Lack of Sleep
Furthermore, in the long run, lack of sleep can lead to even nastier problems. According to Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and author of The Sleep Revolution, “Sleep is profoundly intertwined with virtually every aspect of brain health. Lack of sleep over time can lead to an irreversible loss of brain cells.”
To make things worse, research has shown that consistent lack of sleep leads to increased chances of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, and more accidents. All in all, stuff you want to avoid…
7 Steps To Getting The Best Sleep Of Your Life
I hope it’s clear that getting enough high-quality sleep is important. Not only for your productivity and cognitive performance — but also for your overall health and quality of life. Right now, let’s go over eight of the best, scientifically proven tips to get better sleep.
Step 1: Avoid Screens One Hour Before Bedtime
Nowadays, most of us live with all types of screens around us — whether it’s our smartphone, TV, laptop, or tablet. The problem is that these devices emit blue light, which studies have shown to negatively impact sleep quality.
Because of the artificial blue light, the body’s melatonin production is suppressed. Melatonin is an essential hormone to fall asleep, so when it’s suppressed, the body doesn’t know when to fall asleep.
The solution is to avoid screens one hour before bedtime so that the artificial blue-light can’t disrupt your melatonin production anymore. You could also invest in a pair of blue-light blocking glasses, which are scientifically proven to improve your sleep as they block the blue light coming from screens.
Step 2: Go Easy On Sugar
We all understand that sugar is bad for us, but staying away from sugar isn’t easy. I have a serious sweet tooth, so I understand the struggle. Yet, if you want a night of high quality, deep sleep, it’s essential to limit your sugar intake.
According to Sleep.org, the more sugar you eat during the day, the more often you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t fully wake up, the sugar in your system can pull you out of a deep sleep, making you feel exhausted the next day.
Step 3: Go Easy On Caffeine
According to the National Sleep Foundation, caffeine can temporarily make us feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production. This is why coffee gives you this boost in energy. Unfortunately, when consumed later in the day, this comes at a cost.
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A study by Christopher Drake, PhD., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Wayne State University School of Medicine, showed that people who drank coffee six hours before bed lost at least one hour of sleep.
As a coffee lover myself, this is my strategy; I consume a maximum of two cups of coffee before 15:00. After that time, if I still want a cup of coffee, I switch to decaf coffee. This way, I don’t experience the negative effects that caffeine has on our quality of sleep.
Step 4: Cool Down Your Room
Your body temperature has a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Since your body temperature is usually determined by the temperature of your environment, it’s essential that you cool down your bedroom.
Studies have proven that the optimal room temperature for sleep is at around 15.5–20 degrees Celsius (60 to 68 Fahrenheit). Anything too far above or below this number will make it harder to fall asleep.
Step 5: Black-Out Your Room
Researchers at Brown University discovered that any light in your bedroom, whether coming from the outside or inside of the room, interferes with your sleep. It can even suppress melatonin levels by more than 50%.
Therefore, get some blackout curtains, cover your alarm clock if it emits light (or get an alarm clock with a dimmer adjustment), and dim the lights more and more as the evening progresses. This way, light sources won’t disturb your sleep.
Step 6: Calm Down Your Mind
Racing thoughts and mental clutter is another reason why a lot of people have trouble falling asleep. I’ve found that journaling significantly helps with reducing my inner chatter late at night.
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By writing down my thoughts, worries, experiences of the day, and tomorrow’s to-dos, my mind calms down, and I’m able to fall asleep much easier. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that people who journaled right before bed fell asleep faster than those who didn’t.
Step 7: Use Your Bedroom For Sleep And Sex Only
Stop watching TV or checking social media from your bed. Train your brain that the bedroom is not for mindless entertainment, but for rest and relaxation.
Now Do It
Skipping on sleep to get more done is like trying to win a marathon by sprinting for the first few minutes. You might be ahead for the first few miles, but ultimately, you’ll burn out and the rest will easily overtake you.
Neglecting your sleep and still trying to be very productive doesn’t make much sense. You need to sleep and relax in order to be at your best — both on a cognitive level and a physical level.
Therefore, strive to always make sleep a priority. Getting 7–8 hours of sleep every single night helps you be much more productive, healthy, and happy.
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab