Sleep is an essential component of overall health, but too many of us neglect our sleep. Unfortunately, sacrificing sleep for a career or any other part of your life is detrimental to the very career you’re trying to build. The National Sleep Foundation says good sleep habits may actually boost your productivity and performance at work. Solid sleep can help improve your memory, decision-making ability, and focus — all of which are vital factors in building a successful career in any field. To ease some of the guilt you may feel, thinking too much sleep is a “waste of time,” here are six ways that better sleep improves productivity.
Studies show a slew of ways our bodies and minds become impaired when we don’t get enough sleep. Improving your sleep patterns and habits has the potential to solve each one of these issues and raise your overall productivity. Here are six ways sleep can improve your productivity.
Sleep deprivation makes it harder to determine solutions to problems. When you skimp on your sleep, it’s harder for your brain to respond appropriately to figure out the next steps. Getting enough sleep improves your ability to figure out solutions to complex problems.
Doing your job effectively requires a strong memory. You need to be able to recall information from meetings and clients in order to do your job well. Absorption of new information becomes more difficult without sufficient sleep, as does your ability to recall the information you’ve learned. When you don’t make sleep a priority, you hinder your memory capacity during waking hours.
Many people report a boost in their creativity after a good night’s sleep. Some research shows that Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep enhances creative problem-solving. Often, stepping away from a problem, not just for a few minutes but for a night of sleep, provides you the mental space you need to be able to see the problem in a different way. Studies have shown the power of dreams also influences your creative thought process, though there is still much to learn about this.
Sleep is important in building a strong immune system. Your immune system empowers your body to fight off bacteria and viruses, keeping you healthy. When you get sufficient sleep on a regular basis, you’re more able to withstand the germs you encounter. The healthier you are, the fewer sick days you’ll need. Plus, sleep deprivation can eventually lead to chronic illnesses that impact you for years to come. Your productivity improves when you stay healthy in general, and sleep is a big factor in that.
You can’t be productive at work if you’re nodding off at your desk. Even a small sleep deficit (sleeping 6.75 hours instead of 7.5 hours, for example) can impact your focus the next day. Plus, multiple nights of a lack of sleep results in an accumulation of missed sleep, compounding your decrease in function over time. Productivity at work requires the ability to concentrate. Making sleep a priority is essential.
Sometimes productivity is measured by your ability to make quick decisions. You need to combine many of these traits already mentioned (focus, creativity, coordination, and memory capacity) to process information quickly and efficiently. Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your decision-making ability. Improving your sleep can improve that skill and, therefore, improve your productivity.
Sleep needs vary from person to person, but there are general guidelines for how much sleep an average adult needs per night to function properly. Most adults are said to need between 7.5 and 8.5 hours of sleep per 24-hour period. If that number scares you because you know you sleep much less, it’s time to examine your body’s true sleep needs. Take a look at your current sleep habits. Do you often feel drowsy? Are you frequently reaching for caffeinated beverages to help you get through the day? Do you awaken at roughly the same time, or do you always require an alarm? Try keeping a sleep diary to help you evaluate your sleep. Or, try a “sleep vacation” during a period when you have more flexibility in your schedule. Pick a consistent bedtime but allow yourself to wake naturally. After you’ve adjusted, see how long you’re regularly sleeping. That should be your goal from now on.
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