What's the key to work productivity? Get more sleep!

What's the key to work productivity? Get more sleep!

We spend a lot of time at work. And for many of us, even when we’re not AT work, we may be doing extra work or thinking about work. The stress and anxiety that our job creates can be off the charts.

So, what are some solutions? Well, one of them is sleep. Sleep is one of the key contributors to mental, physical and emotional health but it is often the one we are so easily willing to toss aside. Add to that it’s effect on job performance and it’s quite the curiosity so many people are willing to go without or definitely without enough. Let’s examine some of the benefits of sleep and how they will make us happier, healthier employees.

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for it to do its miracle work on rejuvenating our minds and bodies according to the National Sleep Foundation (yep, it’s a thing). But the Centers for Disease Control (DCD) found that 33% of us get less than six hours a night leading to almost 38% of workers admitting to experiencing fatigue while at work.

Someone did the calculating on this and determined that all this sleep deprivation at work has a major economic impact. Less productivity and motivation coupled with increased health costs end up costing employers around $1,967 per employee each year. That’s over one billion dollars a year nationally.

How does the body and mind react to being sleep deprived? Not well. Some job-related factors resulting from a lack of adequate sleep include:

  • A challenge to maintain focus, attention and vigilance
    For example, do you want the guy who’s driving your city bus to not be getting enough sleep? Or your airplane’s pilot?
  • More likely to make errors and omissions
    No big deal, right? Mistakes happen. Well, what if that person is your doctor prescribing medication? Or an engineer designing a new bridge?
  • Being more angry, irritable and vulnerable to stress
    No one wants to work around someone who fits that description. And no one wants a sleep-deprived stressed-out policeman or fire fighter.

All of these things can add up to more serious physical and mental health problems like anxiety, depression, dementia, obesity and heart problems.

If you are one of these walking zombies, there are ways to change arriving to work every day feeling already tired. Here are some tips and tricks to get you feeling rested on the job:

  • Reassess your priorities—If you aren’t getting enough sleep and it’s starting to show, consider what you are spending your time on instead. Socializing, bringing work home, binging television are all things which can keep us from a good night’s sleep. Maybe it’s time to take a hard look at changing up the balance.
  • Find some work/life balance—If you are constantly having to bring work home or working shift work requiring overtime, it may be time for a chat with your boss. Explain the situation and see if there’s a way to balance things so that enough sleep is in the mix.
  • Improve your sleep regimen—Just like you have hygiene routines for your teeth, hair, body, etc., you can develop a hygiene routine around sleep. Think about your bedroom, what you do before going to sleep, and eliminate any habits that are going to make sleep harder.

Let’s dive a little deeper into that last bullet. How do we improve our sleep hygiene? Try these ideas:

  • No screens before bed. Yes, for most of us our phones are an extension of our arms, but powering down is essential for good, deep, restful sleep. Checking your email just one more time does not allow your brain to unplug the way it needs to for sleep to help it recycle.
  • No carbs or alcohol before bed. That beer and pizza midnight snack has got to go. Skipping these food choices before bed will increase your sleep quality and translate into a more productive you the next day.
  • Prepare for sleep.
    • Change the house to dimmer lighting an hour before bed.
    • Don’t get into your jammies until right before bed (no matter how comfortable they are!)
    • Once you’re in bed, skip the screen and read a book.

If you’re one of those people who can’t seem to turn off your brain at night and sleep just won’t come try one of the simplest fixes ever—a to-do list. If you go to bed already worried about your schedule for tomorrow it’s almost not worth the effort. But studies show that a person who jots down a to-do list the following day gets to sleep much faster than those who don’t. You could even take it a step further and pick out what you’ll wear, make your lunch, and pack up your laptop and other work items. Anything to clear your head before it hits the pillow.

Hopefully, these ideas didn’t bore you to sleep but if they did, great! You need it. Start getting some good deep sleep and see how much it helps.