Ever experienced yawning constantly at your office desk and feeling sluggish throughout the day? This may just be a telling sign of sleep deprivation and how you need to review your sleep hygiene.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, employees who sleep 10 or more hours per night miss an average of 1.6 times more days of work due to illness and lose an average 2.2 times more productivity than employees who sleep eight hours per night.
Perhaps more than the physical body, the brain needs sufficient sleep to do important mental “housekeeping”. The lack of sleep tends to retain “toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake”. Skimping on sleep not only affects your behaviour– it also impairs your brain’s ability to process information and problem-solving skills, reduces creativity and overall work productivity. In the long-run, sleep deprivation can lead to more serious health issues such as cognitive decline and dementia.
How much sleep is “a good night’s sleep”?
Generally, 7-9 hours of sleep is sufficient. However, some people may need more hours of sleep if they have serious health conditions.
Developing good sleep hygiene
Getting the right amount and quality of sleep is essential for everyday life especially at the workplace. Consider these simple methods to help you sleep better and boost your productivity at work!
1. Avoid caffeine after lunch
Reducing your caffeine intake promotes better quality of sleep. According to HuffPost Life, caffeine has a 6-hour half-life and it takes 24 hours to work its way out of your system. Basically, any caffeinated drinks taken after lunch or noon will still be near 50% strength at bedtime. This is why we tend to grab a cuppa the next morning to stay alert due to lack of sleep the previous day, creating a dangerous cycle.
2. Stop staring at electronic devices at night (Read: Put away your mobile phones and laptops!)
Blue light produced by electronic devices impairs sleep by reducing sleep-inducing hormone- melatonin and makes you feel more alert. It is advisable to stop using and electronic devices after dinner to mentally prepare yourself for bedtime. Watching the telly after dinner is acceptable as long as you sit at a distance from the TV. However, if you really need to use any electronic device, limit your exposure to blue light by using a filter or protective eye wear.
3. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, everyday (yes…on weekends, too!)
Adopting a routine bedtime and when you wake up the next day regulates your sleep pattern and helps you get a good night’s sleep. You will wake up the next day feeling energized and ready to take on the world! 🙂
4. After clocking out for the day, stop working!
Working late at night forces the brain to stay alert when you should be winding down. According to HuffPost Life, surveys show that “60% of people monitor their smartphones for work emails until they go to sleep”. As mentioned earlier, staying away from devices that emit blue light is crucial for quality sleep and general well-being.
5. Monitor your sleep pattern and determine how much sleep you really need
A popular advocate of sleep hygiene is Ariana Huffington, author, columnist and businesswoman, who often slept less and overworked, until she collapsed unexpectedly from exhaustion one afternoon.
On changing her sleep habits, Huffington says, “I began getting 30 minutes more sleep a night, until gradually I got to 7 to 8 hours. The result has been transformational.” Today, she continues sharing her knowledge on the dangers of sleep deprivation and the benefits of quality sleep – “science now demonstrates unequivocally that when we get enough sleep, everything is better: our health; our mental capacity and clarity; our joy at life; and our ability to live life without reacting to every bad thing that happens.”
Bill Gates, regarded as a famous night owl, agrees on the importance of knowing how much of sleep you really need – “I like to get 7 hours of sleep a night because that’s what I need to stay sharp and creative and upbeat.”
Take charge of your life today and follow a sleep routine until you find out how much sleep you need to function at your best in the workplace!