How Sleep Affects Your Productivity and Tips to Make Things Better
You certainly know that sleep is incredibly vital for all aspects of your life. If your lifestyle requires you to be concentrated and productive, you depend on proper shut-eye even more.
Unfortunately, most people don’t consider sleep deprivation as something threatening as its effects build up gradually over time. But chronic lack of sleep can in fact easily erase all your progress, affect productivity, and ‘reward’ you with different health issues.
Here’s how it happens and how to avoid it.
What Does a Lack of Sleep Do to Your Body?
There are several effects on your body due to the lack of sleep. The most common ones include:
- Impaired concentration
- Difficulty remembering things
- Irritability and poor emotional control
- Unpleasant physical symptoms
Let’s see each one of these in more detail.
When you’re sleeping, your lymphatic system activates a specific pathway that allows the brain to flush out the waste accumulated in cerebrospinal fluid during the day. Thus, the space around the brain cleanses and the neural cells become able to work to the full capacity the next day.
But when you lack sleep, the cleansing doesn’t happen. The waste continues to build up and may impair the communication between neurons, thereby making you less able to concentrate when doing tasks.
Besides that, sleep deprivation impacts reaction time. So, if your work requires precise attention to detail and quick reaction (e.g. driving a car or operating manufacturing equipment), then poor sleep may increase the chances of accidents.
Difficulty Remembering Things
The second thing that is affected by sleep deprivation is a memory.
In your brain, the primary structure that is responsible for memory formation is the hippocampus. The hippocampus remains highly active during sleep and may consolidate the sensory signals and information your brain has obtained throughout the day.
Typically, memory formation occurs during the REM stage of sleep. However, if your sleep is reduced, its structure alters, and the percentage of REM-sleep decreases.
This, in turn, results in memory problems and may affect your learning and working progress.
Irritability and Poor Emotional Control
The PsychologyToday reviewed several studies that confirm the correlation between sleep loss and emotional disruptions the day after.
In particular, sleep deprivation can affect your mood by making you:
- more impulsive
- less susceptible to criticism
- prone to anger tantrums
- volatile and irritable
Altogether, they certainly do not make a portrait for the Employee Of The Month.
Unpleasant Physical Symptoms
Finally, sleep deprivation might affect your body physically, leading to a host of unpleasant symptoms that may distract you from work. The most common complaints usually are the following:
- Sleepiness. Obviously, if you didn’t rest well, you will be sleepy and keep dreaming about a cozy bed and a fuzzy blanket all day long.
- Headaches. The brain waste mentioned above may trigger tension headaches right after you wake up. Also, it’s a proven fact that sleep deprivation is perceived as stress by the body. And stress means elevated levels of blood pressure, which is another cause for headaches.
Science-Proven Tips on How to Improve Your Sleep
Now that you know what might await you in the future, you have two options to choose from. You may accumulate sleep debt and then go off the deep end with sleepovers on weekends… Or you can follow these simple tricks to make your everyday sleep much more restorative.
Stick to the Routine
First and foremost, you need to start falling asleep and waking up at the same time. It will be hard for about a week, especially if you’ve never had a sleep schedule before, but it’s a win-win situation in the long run.
So, here’s what you need to do:
- Determine your sleep needs. It’s pretty easy, actually, as most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. However, if you want to know for sure, you can track your sleep with a wearable tracking bracelet or keep a sleep log by writing down the times you wake up and go to bed at.
- Make sure you can satisfy these needs. Now your goal is to make your sleep a priority and build your schedule around it rather than try to fit it into your busy life. Remember that if you rest well, you will have enough energy and eagerness to move mountains.
- Stick to the schedule. And here comes the hardest part. You need to stick to your new schedule even on weekends; otherwise, you may have to start again.
Turn Your Bed into a Perfect Place to Sleep
Quite a common reason for people to be unable to get enough sleep may lie in their beds. Replacing one of the items that make up your bed may drastically improve the situation.
- Mattress. If your mattress is more than seven years old, you likely need to replace it. Chances are your old bed cannot offer proper support for your spine and relaxation for your muscles. It may also be home to dust mites, bed bugs and other allergens. Plus, older mattresses tend to contribute to hot sleeping. All these things don’t help you get good sleep.
- Pillow. If you aren’t ready to replace your mattress yet, try starting with a pillow. There are many different types of pillows on the market today, so even the pickiest sleeper will find a model that will suit their needs.
- Sheets. Synthetic materials aren’t the best choice when it comes to good sleep, as they may generate static and typically have poor thermoregulation. Opt for natural materials, such as cotton or linen. Yes, they are pricier, but are often more durable as well.
Manipulate With Light
Light is the natural regulator of your body’s circadian clock. If you’re sleep-deprived, this clock goes out of balance, which may aggravate the symptoms of sleep loss.
To bring your circadian rhythms back to normal, try doing the following:
- Morning exposure to light. Form the habit of greeting sunrise, as it’s the best time to wake up. Sunlight inhibits melatonin production and gives you the alertness boost you need. If you live in the Northern regions, try to use programmed lamps that mimic sunlight activity.
- Evening darkness. In the late hours, make your bedroom as dark as possible. Limit screen time and opt for reading a paper book if you need a relaxing activity.
Tweak Your Thermostat
The temperature of your bedroom plays a massive role in how you sleep. Typically, your body drops its temperature during the night to boost the levels of melatonin and human growth hormone that contribute to falling asleep.
A hot environment, on the contrary, makes you more alert. And sweaty. Which isn’t pleasant and relaxing at all.
The best temperature range to fall asleep is 60-67 F. So, adjust your thermostat in the evening, and you’ll be able to travel to the Land of Nod much more easily.
Sleep deprivation should be taken seriously since it impacts negatively your body and mind. If staying productive is important for your career, we hope these tips can help you get there.
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