May 26, 2014

How Sleep Affects Your Productivity

How Sleep Affects Productivity

Getting a good night of sleep is extremely important. I’m really only starting to realize now how important sleep is, and how much of an effect it actually has on you.

I’ll go through a bunch of scientific reasons that show how sleep affects you, but even without looking at data, you know what a bad night of sleep can do to you.

For example, did you know some research has shown that people who get 5 hours or less of sleep for a few nights in a row have the equivalent of a 0.1 blood alcohol level?

Think about that for a second. The legal limit for driving is 0.08, and these people are at 0.10. These people are walking around wasted all day.

If someone has ever experienced several nights of bad sleep, and then almost fell asleep behind the wheel, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Sleep affects much more than your productivity, a lack of sleep can also have massive effects on your health. And this is a huge problem, it’s estimated that 70 million Americans have a sleeping disorder.

Effects On Productivity From Lack Of Sleep

1. Trouble Learning

One study of middle school students found that “delaying school start times by one hour, from roughly 7:30 to 8:30, increases standardized test scores by at least 2 percentile points in math and 1 percentile point in reading.”

This is why I start work at 10am instead of 9am. I know I’m way more productive if I’m able to get a little more sleep in.

This has been one of the best benefits for my personal productivity.

2. You’ll Make More Mistakes

One study found that one sleepless night contributed to a 20-32% increase in the number of errors made by surgeons.

In another study, they found that sports players, especially sports that require focus like cycling or shooting, made more mistakes when they didn’t sleep.

Even without looking at these studies, I’m sure we’ve all experienced this feeling, where we’re not on top of our game.

3. Headaches

Scientists don’t know the actual connection between lack of sleep and headaches, but there definitely is a connection.

This is something they’ve been studying for over one hundred years. Migraines have also been found to be triggered by lack of sleep.

It’s hard to stay productive if you have a headache.

4. More Easily Distracted

Researchers have found that tasks that require your attention are affected by lack of sleep (not surprising), what they say is that you enter a state where you’re not really fully awake or fully asleep, you’re kind of just floating.

If you’re well rested you can use our productivity tips.

How To Fix These Problems

Besides saying the obvious, get more sleep, there are 3 things you can do to increase your productivity if you’re not getting enough sleep.

1. Take Naps

Naps have been proven to quickly recharge your brain, and this is perfect for that afternoon energy drop we all experience.

The following is taken from an amazing article written by Michael Hyatt about the importance of napping.

  • A nap restores alertness
  • A nap prevents burnout
  • A nap heightens sensory perception
  • A nap reduces the risk of heart disease
  • A nap makes you more productive

2. Sit Near A Window

Research shows that getting that natural light from a window will lead to a better night’s sleep.

When you get a better night’s sleep, you’ll come in the next day more productive.

A study done by Northwestern researcher Ivy Cheung found that workers who sit next to a window during the day, have a better sleep at night.

For her study, she tracked workers, where half of them worked near a window, and the other half worked in windowless rooms. The workers with the windows in their workplace slept for an average of 47 minutes longer each night.

3. Turn Off All Electronics Before Bed

If you have a computer in your room, turn it off. Make sure your TV is off, and that you don’t check your smartphone before you go to bed.

The bright light that comes from these devices trigger your brain to wake up and be more alert when in fact you’re trying to calm it down, and get it ready for sleep.

How Much Sleep You Actually Need

We usually hear that 8 hours is the magic number for sleep, but there’s actually no evidence to back that up.

In fact, studies show that getting 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep is the best for you.

The most surprising thing about how much sleep we need is that too much sleep can actually be really damaging.

Sleeping 8.5 hours might actually be worse than sleeping for 5 hours.

According to the book The Power Of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz, for the highest quality of sleep, you need to be drained, both physically and mentally.

The truth is though, there is no magic number, and you need to find what works best for you.

How Does Sleep Affect Your Productivity?

I know if I don’t get a good night sleep, I’m so tired the next day, and it’s hard for me to stay focused.

What do you do to be productive if you didn’t sleep well? Do you have any other facts on how sleep affects your productivity? Let me know your thoughts on twitter @JacobShriar or @Officevibe.

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