Are you worried about the amount of sleep you get at night? And do you feel your sleep patterns are having a negative effect on your working life?
Don’t worry. It’s possible to rid yourself of bad habits and increase your productivity and efficiency levels at the same time.
You Are Sleeping Too Much
We all know we’re supposed to sleep eight hours a night if we’re going to be healthy, wealthy and wise. Don’t we?
Recent studies on sleep deprivation appear to tell us differently. For some reason, we still cling to the old myths and worry about a perceived lack of sleep and the effect on our waking hours.
According to a study by the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center in California, it’s people who sleep between 6.5 and 7.5 hours a night are the healthier ones. Those who report sleeping longer than the prescribed eight hours are the ones likely to die sooner as rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes increase with time spent sleeping.
You’re Not Sleeping Enough
Then there is the other end of the spectrum.
The parietal and occipital lobes are the parts of the brain that govern our knowledge of numbers, manipulation of objects and visual processing, and it’s these areas that are affected when we don’t get enough sleep. After 24 hours of sleep deprivation, the ability to decide the difference between good and bad and distinguishing between ideas is compromised. Disastrous business decisions will inevitably follow.
It’s also true that sleep deprivation causes us to lose focus. To put that another way: it makes it more difficult for us to re-focus. When the focus of a person who has had a good night’s sleep starts to slip, activity in the amygdala will step into action and bring us back to the task at hand. These processes don’t kick off as easily in a sleep-deprived individual and we’ll struggle to get our attention back on track.
Technology Is Messing With Your Sleep Patterns
We love tech, but it makes getting a sound sleep very complicated.
It’s the production of melatonin in our bodies that makes us fall asleep and it can only be produced in darkness. The white light we drench ourselves last thing at night as we browse our smartphones and watch videos on our iPads is preventing melatonin production. What we’re effectively doing is fooling our bodies into thinking it’s daylight and we shouldn’t be asleep.
Professor Rajaratnam of Monash University’s School of Psychology and Psychiatry suggests shutting off all devices up to two hours before bedtime and most definitely at least one hour before. The reason is quite simply, “to try to reduce the impact of these light sources on sleep.”
This isn’t the only reason for leaving our gadgets at the bedroom door. As more of us are checking our emails and watching videos in bed, we’re learning to associate the bedroom with activities other than sleep and sex.
No wonder we’re all tired!
How To Get More Sleep
Aside from putting the tech down well before bedtime, there are some other things you can do:
1. Nap more: Studies suggest that those who take a regular nap benefit from increased creativity, a more relaxed mind ready to make new associations, and increased alertness. They’re even less likely to die of a heart attack. The National Sleep Foundation suggest restricting daytime sleeping to 20 or 30 minutes in a darkened room. If you can’t manage that during your work day, try sleeping in your car for half an hour at lunchtime.
2. You need a ritual: Want to kick the bad habits that are stopping you from getting enough sleep? Form some new ones that’ll disengage you from the day’s events: take a walk or read a book for half an hour. But, whatever you do, leave those emails alone and don’t re-engage!
3. Make yourself tired: exhausted even. Contrary to the advice of the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center, Pro athletes sleep for up to 12 hours a day, simply to recover from the punishment they’ve given their bodies. That includes naps before and after workouts and games.
Sleep Can be On Your Side
Stressing about not getting sufficient sleep is the very last thing we should be doing.
Let’s hear it for winding down slowly after a hard day’s work, switching off those gizmos and gadgets, sneaking power naps and we’ll all be working like well-oiled machines.
About the Author
Mark is the Marketing Director and Co-Founder of Contactzilla. In addition to his love for emerging technology, Mark is also a trustee of Deki, a very cool microfinance charity that helps entrepreneurs in developing countries generate sustainable incomes.