Guest post from Keith Humble at Linthorpe Beds
We’ve all been told that sleep is important for rest and recuperation, but do you know how it can affect your productivity and work life? Here, Keith Humble from Linthorpe Beds discusses how getting enough shut-eye is crucial for doing well in your career.
We all know what it’s like to lay tossing and turning in bed at night and wake up on a morning feeling less than refreshed. In fact, a study by Chemist 4 U found that the average adult Brit is getting between 5.78 and 6.83 hours a night as opposed to the recommended 7–9 hours (National Sleep Foundation).
And, while this can leave you feeling groggy and short-tempered, it can also have a negative impact on how you perform at work. From making it harder for you to concentrate, to lowering your motivation, there are plenty of ways consecutive restless nights can inhibit your career progression. Here, I will be discussing just how a lack of sleep can catch up with you.
It can inhibit your learning
As well as recharging, getting enough sleep is important for being able to focus properly and learn more effectively. More specifically, when you rest your brain is able to consolidate memories more coherently, which in turn can help you to remember things you’ve recently learnt.
When you’re kept up at night, or sacrifice sleep to stay up late, you will find that you struggle to recall things, which can be a step in the wrong direction at work. When you’re looking to progress in your career, it’s important that you are constantly learning and improving on your skills, and a lack of sleep can inhibit you from doing so.
It can lower your concentration levels
It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to experience difficulty concentrating after a night of disturbed or little sleep. In fact, SleepFoundation.org report that a lack of shut-eye can make it harder for you to focus on tasks ahead of you, and to remain engaged with them.
More often than not, when people are sleepy, they will take longer to do things because of these inhibited concentration levels. This is detrimental to your productivity and can push you back in terms of progression and could even see you missing out on great opportunities at work if these sleeplessness effects are prolonged.
It can result in poor judgement
As a lack of sleep can lower your concentration levels, you may also notice how it can impact your good judgement. When you’re not able to read situations properly or concentrate on things at hand, it becomes easier for you to make poorer decisions. This can result in you making more mistakes at work, which can mean you are less productive in your day as you have more problems to rectify.
Similarly, if you work in a high-risk industry or drive a lot for work, poor judgement can increase your chances of injury and accidents. As well as this, when you’re concentrating less, your reaction times will be slower, so it’ll be harder to avoid getting yourself into dangerous situations.
It can limit your creativity
While it might seem counterintuitive that getting your brain to work at its optimal is to put it to sleep, there is much research to suggest that sleep feeds your creativity. For example, Stephen King described an event in his book On Writing, about falling asleep on a long plane journey home and had a dream which was a snippet he included in one of his best-selling novels, Misery.
Similarly, a new hypothesis published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences suggests that creative thought relies on the reorganisation of existing knowledge, and that both rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep stages work together to help you to form complex knowledge frameworks, and allow for these to be rejigged to get creative thoughts.
How to improve your sleep and boost productivity
If you’ve found that sleeplessness is impacting your work life negatively, or you don’t want to wait around to find out how it could, you need to look at improving your sleep quantity and quality. There are a number of ways this can be done, but I’ll be sharing a handful of my top tips below.
Put your devices away before bed
We live in a world where technology is constantly evolving, which can often mean we’re staying up late on our phones, tablets or watching our smart TVs. But what you might not know is that these devices emit blue light which can trick our internal body clock — known as our circadian rhythm — to think it’s time to be awake.
To tackle this problem, I’d recommend turning off all electronic devices at least an hour before bed.
Create an optimal sleep environment
There are many factors which can keep you up on a night: too much light, noise and an unregulated temperature can all impact how much sleep you get. So, you’ll need to make some changes to each of these.
For example, if you think your room is too light, investing in some blackout blinds or curtains can make it darker and help your body recognise it’s time to sleep. Similarly, following the guidelines for optimal sleeping temperature — which is 16–18°C — will make sure you’re not overheating, or shivering come bedtime. You may need to change your duvet tog according to the seasons to help you achieve this temperature.
Invest in a comfortable mattress
Your mattress is perhaps the most crucial element you’ll need to consider for your bedroom. When you’re lying on a lumpy or uneven mattress, you’ll no doubt struggle to sleep, just as you will when you’re sleeping on the wrong mattress firmness. The general guidance is to replace your mattress every 10 years, but you can go beyond or below this depending on how comfortable your current mattress feels.
Write down your stressors before bed
When you’re lying in bed thinking about all the things you have to do tomorrow at work, or how to solve some issues you’ve run into, it’ll wreak havoc on your sleeping pattern. This in turn can make anxious individuals feel even more worried and stressed.
Instead of leaving your mind to wander on a night, why not write down what is playing on your mind? It’ll feel relieving to get these thoughts out of your mind onto paper, and this can even serve as a to-do list of things you need to tackle the next day if you’re afraid you’ll forget.
Sleep is important for a range of functions, but when you’re trying to boost your career and work more productively, it’s crucial that you’re getting enough rest. Take my top tips to developing a healthier sleep routine and you should see some benefits soon.
Disclaimer: The advice in this article is to be used as a guideline. If you are struggling with severe sleep problems or are suffering from sleep-related conditions like insomnia, please consult your doctor.