Sleep Matters: Sleep Deprivation and Productivity

May 24, 2016

In-the-news

Are you getting enough sleep? If the answer is no, there’s a good chance you’ve noticed a drop in productivity, and unfortunately, less motivation results in less success. If you struggle to fall asleep or find yourself up at all hours of the night finishing a project or sending off emails, you’re not doing yourself any favors. The effects of sleep deprivation can be detrimental to your body as well as your mood, brain function, and your ability to focus. A few extra hours of sleep each night can work wonders for your attitude and your career.

What Does Sleep Deprivation do to Your Health?

Sleep deprivation is connected to a number of serious health problems including stroke, heart attack, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. When you don’t get enough sleep your body produces too much cortisol, a hormone that helps regulate the effects of stress on the body, which has a variety of negative side effects. Excess cortisol not only damages your immune system, but it makes you look older by breaking down collagen, that helpful protein that keeps your skin smooth and supple, more quickly.

But that’s not all. Lack of sleep makes you fat. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to reach for sugary foods to boost your energy levels and less likely to head to the gym. Sleep deprivation also slows down your metabolism meaning you burn less calories during the day resulting in weight gain, especially if you are too tired to exercise or make a healthy home cooked meal.

In addition, lack of sleep affects your mental and emotional well being resulting in irritability, cognitive impairment, memory lapses, impaired judgment, increased stress, and decreased creativity, all of which contribute to a decrease in productivity.

How Much Sleep Should You Be Getting?

On average, most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. There are few people who need less than seven hours and those who need more than nine often have underlying health issues. If you find yourself lying awake at night unable to sleep, here are a few suggestions to help you fall asleep faster and sleep sounder.

  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon- Drinking caffeine late in the day will keep you in the lighter stages of sleep resulting in poor or restless sleep.
  • Exercise- Rigorous exercise helps promote sleep, and while it’s generally suggested that you workout at least three hours before bedtime, some people are able to exercise right before they go to sleep and have no negative side effects.
  • Don’t eat big meals before bedtime- Heavy or rich foods can affect sleep and they also have the potential to cause heartburn. Avoid big meals, instead eat a light snack in the evening before bed.
  • ·   Wake up at the same time every day- Consistency is key. Getting up at the same time every morning improves both your mood and the quality of your sleep.
  • Quit working- While it may be tempting to finish up a task in the evening, working stimulates the brain and prevents your mind and body from relaxing and preparing for sleep. Put the phone and tablet away when you get home and allow yourself to unwind.

What are the Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep?

When you get the optimal amount of sleep, you will be in a better mood and have more energy to get your work done during the day. Here are a few benefits of good sleep.

  • Quickly recover from distractions- When you’re well rested, you’re better able to handle distractions like chatty coworkers or inquisitive kids without breaking your concentration.
  • Prevent burnout- The burnout rate is higher for individuals who get less than six hours of sleep a night. Getting good rest may keep you at your job longer and make it more enjoyable.
  • Better decision making- A good night’s sleep increases your ability to make better decisions in less time.
  • Improved memory- If you want to retain information, sleep is the way to go. Sleep deprivation is extremely taxing on working memory.
  • Make fewer mistakes- Individuals that are suffering from moderate sleep deprivation have a 50% slower response time and they generally have a lower accuracy rate than a person that is under the influence.

An occasional late night isn’t going to negatively impact your life, but if you find that you’re running on low and becoming less productive at work, it might be time to take a look at your sleeping patterns. Make it a goal to get seven hours of sleep each night to increase your motivation and improve your overall health.

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