Whether you’re still working from home or you’re back at the office, trying to be more productive and get work done when you feel drained and exhausted is no easy task. Being tired in the workplace impairs your memory, decreases your awareness and attention to detail, and slows down your response time, which can be dangerous if you happen to have a high-stakes job.
Sleep and work productivity go hand in hand. While today’s hectic culture and stressful working environments can negatively impact your performance, nothing’s more detrimental to your ability to stay focused than not sleeping well at night.
Sleeping 7 to 9 hours each night promotes cell repair and allows your neurons to reorganize, contributing to long and short-term memory formation. It also increases activity in areas of your brain that regulate emotion, which in turn enables you to wake up happy and energized, instead of cranky and worn out.
What is deep sleep and why do you need it?
Deep sleep is also referred to as “slow-wave sleep” (SWS) or delta sleep.
- Your heartbeat and breathing become their slowest as your muscles relax
- Your brain waves become the slowest they’ll be while you’re asleep
- It’s difficult to awaken even with loud noises
Many people never reach or stay long in deep sleep and sadly miss out on all of the crucial benefits. Deep sleep is where most healing, rejuvenating, and cellular repair occur. Reaching deep sleep determines whether you will feel refreshed and alert the next day or groggy and unfocused.
The benefits of deep sleep include:
- energy restoration
- cell regeneration
- blood supply to muscles increases
- promotes growth and repair of tissues and bones strengthens the immune system
Forfeiting sleep to get work done can quickly become a toxic cycle, where sleep deprivation continuously hinders your productivity during the day, but you have to keep sacrificing sleep because you don’t have the energy to complete your tasks at working hours.
Fortunately, better sleep and optimum productivity are within reach. The first step is understanding why your nightly slumber is critical for your work performance.
How sleep deprivation kills productivity
Sleep is a vital function that allows your mind and body to recharge. It also boosts your overall health and wellbeing. Conversely, sleep deprivation throws your entire system out of whack, weakening your immune system, wreaking havoc on your hormones, and making you vulnerable to a wealth of health problems ranging from viral infections to increased cancer risk.
Here’s what happens when you don’t get enough sleep:
If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter, you’ve likely experienced the consequences of sleep deprivation firsthand. You wake up with a splitting headache, your eyes look sunken and your face pale, and you probably have a little (or a lot) heartburn, too. Admittedly, that’s not really the look we’re going for before heading to a business meeting, but not getting enough sleep affects more than just your appearance.
Sleep deprivation impairs your body’s ability to fight disease, which means you are more likely to get sick when you’re sleep-deprived than when you’re well-rested. Sleep and the immune system have a bidirectional relationship where good sleep is key for strengthening immunity (and vice versa), but a strong immune response, like that caused when you’re sick, can also affect sleep.
Studies show that people that don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus and may take longer to recover from illnesses in general. So if you are missing work frequently because you’re constantly under the weather, you may want to take a closer look at your sleeping habits.
Going to work sleepy can increase your risk of being involved in a workplace accident. Research suggests that sleep-deprived employees are an outstanding 70% more likely to suffer a work-related accident than their well-rested counterparts. In fact, several catastrophic workplace accidents have been directly and indirectly linked to sleeplessness, including the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster and the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989.
Memory and thinking
You don’t have to miss an entire week of sleep to experience the consequences of sleeplessness. Since sleep plays a critical role in learning, thinking, and memory consolidation, missing just one night of sleep can impair your ability to focus, remember important deadlines, and solve problems.
Working while tired and underslept can make you irritable, frustrated, and downright moody. And chronic sleeplessness can lead to or worsen symptoms of mood disorders like anxiety and depression, which are associated with absenteeism, decreased productivity, procrastination, and poor overall quality of life.
Getting more (and better) sleep
The best way to prevent workplace accidents and increase your productivity is to get more and better sleep, which might seem like an impossible goal when you spend most nights tossing and turning until the wee hours of the morning. But the good news is that you have much more control over your sleep than you may have thought.
Here are some simple lifestyle modification tips that will help you get a better hold of your sleeping difficulties:
- Create a bedtime routine that works for you: bedtime routines are not just for kids. Going to bed at roughly the same hour and incorporating a ritual to help you get on a sleeping mindset can help adjust your internal clock and optimize your sleep-wake cycles. Bedtime rituals can be anything simple, like taking a warm bath or shower before bed, doing light stretches, listening to soothing music, or meditating for a few minutes.
- Reduce nighttime blue light exposure: the blue light that electronic devices like your phone or tablet emit is highly disruptive for sleep. Research shows that blue light suppresses melatonin release, which delays sleep onset and alters your circadian rhythm.
- Limit or avoid daytime naps: napping can confuse your circadian rhythm, making you feel tired during the day and energized at night. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you do shift work or work nights, just make sure that you are maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.
- Take a supplement: melatonin supplements are a safe and effective drug-free alternative for regulating your internal clock and synchronizing your sleep-wake cycles. If you’ve never taken melatonin, we recommend starting with a lower dose and working your way up, if necessary.
More about the importance of a deep restorative night’s sleep
Need a little help getting a good night’s sleep? Consider this drug-free option.
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