Productivity Tip #6: The Importance of Sleep for Productivity

peaceful-morning-start In the previous post I talked about my hour of power in the mornings which helps me start each day with energy.

Getting up early is a hard habit to establish but like any habit it can learned with continual practice. The simplest way to become an early riser is to get up at a set time each morning and then go to bed in the evening when you feel tired.

It’s a simple rule but it has numerous benefits. When our alarm clocks go off in the morning, we can hit the snooze button a few times but it is never quite enough. By listening to our body at night we can start to give our body the sleep that it needs. You cannot expect to be productive all day without enough sleep.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than 7 hours per night when 7.5 to 9 hours is recommended. While many people think they can function on less sleep, they could be missing out on their true physical and mental potential with their chronic sleep debt.

Research is constantly showing us the importance of sleep and the downsides of being chronically sleep deprived. When we don’t get enough sleep we are more likely to be irritable, crave junk food and have a depressed immunity. We’re less productive and creative. In fact, a 2011 study estimated that lack of sleep was costing American businesses $63 billion.

One recent study showed that the brain clears itself of damaging molecules while we sleep. Sleep has also been shown to help us store new information to memory through memory consolidation. People who slept after learning something new did better on tests later.

Even with all these benefits of something as easy as sleep, it can still be hard to get in enough hours.

It can be helpful to give yourself a strict bedtime or at least an electronic bed time. When we have to be off our computer at a certain time, it forces us to be more efficient. Schedule your computer to turn off if you need to or set up blocks on the websites you are most likely to be wasting time on.

If you find yourself staying up late reading the latest thrilling best-seller you may have to switch to reading to non-fiction that won’t staying up past midnight.

While not all workplaces are conducive to napping, a power nap can be a great way to recharge in the middle of the day. A study by NASA found that a short nap of 40 minutes improved performance by 34%. Make sure to keep your naps under an hour so your body doesn’t have time to enter a deep sleep cycle, that will result in grogginess after waking up.

Make getting enough sleep a non-negotiable priority. Sleep affects our mental and physical functioning and there is no substitute for a good night’s sleep. Keep to a consistent sleep schedule as much as you can for maximum sustained productivity.

In the next post, I’ll talk about how to manage social media, which can be one of biggest distractions from sleep, work, and education.

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