Getting adequate sleep is important – it helps with memory and concentration, directly affects your productivity, as well as your physical health, your mood and the quality of your life. Lack of good sleep can take a serious toll on your energy levels, your emotional balance, your focus, and even your weight!
Simple Steps to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
In fact, not sleeping enough may lead to stress, burnout, disengagement from work, and poorer performance on the job. A good night sleep, or even a short nap during the day, however, can be the ultimate performance enhancer—one that reinforces good health, energy and focus.
If you take your sleeping issues seriously and start to make efforts to improve your quality and quantity of sleep, not only will you see an increase in focus, creativity, and productivity, but you’ll additionally benefit from its effect on your overall health. Longer REM cycles, for instance, give our brain a time to rest, which is crucial to maximizing productivity.
Therefore, it is a good idea to learn the best times for you to work and sleep, so you can adjust the rest of your schedule to facilitate your productivity and performance, rather than hinder it.
A short nap in the afternoon can help reduce your stress levels, which in turn improves productivity. For a good mind and body rest, however, you should focus on having a good night’s sleep. Health specialists recommend to sleep at least 8 hours a day if you want to maximize your work performance and your energy levels.
Unfortunately, sleep-deprived people don’t immediately notice their decrease in performance and productivity and often seek some other energy-boosters such as strong coffee, energy drinks and sugary foods to maintain their energy levels. Poor sleep is causing a significant drop of work productivity as well as a lot of health issues. There are many studies which explain how the effects of sleep deprivation negatively affect your productivity at school, work and life.
When it comes to sleep, there is something that we can learn from the European countries, specially Italy and Spain. People there have lunch and then have their afternoon siesta where they take some time to relax, nap or just de-stress before returning to work for the rest of the day.
Yet many of us regularly have a problem with getting enough of adequate sleep, toss and turn all night and can’t wake up fresh in the morning. Modern life requires us to operate on a pre-planned wake-up time and keeps us busy till late in the night but when it comes to sleep, we rarely take the time to plan it and often overlook it.
“Sleep is a criminal waste of time…”, they say. And some people even teach us how to sleep less and live more. However, for me, getting enough sleep is very important for my productivity and my overall quality of life. Therefore, I make sure that I provide a good night’s rest to my mind and my body and, in the next lines, I will share with you my tips on how to sleep better and wake up fresher. If you are having troubles with falling asleep or you twist and turn all night and never feel energetic in the morning, you may like to try some of the suggestions that I will post below. They can make you more productive, improve your health and just help to make you an all-around happier person.
Many people work 40 hours or more a week and even if you’re working less and you try to have a reasonable amount of work hours, your work might not be so productive if you’re not supporting it with good sleep.
Therefore, let’s take a look at the science of sleeping, what the best kinds of sleep are and how taking just a nap in the afternoon can help you live a more productive life. A good night’s sleep is a fundamental part of our health and wellbeing, and means we are more alert and productive during the day. That’s why what I’ve been repeating from the beginning of this article is that one of the most important things you can possibly do to stay productive is get a good night’s sleep.
Poor sleep hurts your productivity, while good sleep enhances it! Remember that and learn what you can do to ensure the sleep you are getting is good enough.
For instance, when you have a consistent bed time and wake-up time, your brain acclimates to this and moves through the sleep cycle in preparation for you to feel rested and alert at your wake-up time. The better you train your body to a regular sleep schedule, the easier it is to fall asleep and wake up. Afford yourself adequate time to fall into a deep sleep, and you notice that the many bits of new information that come at you every day are more likely to stay on your mind longer. The quality and quantity of sleep have a major impact on your ability to learn, concentrate as well as memorize new information.
If you’re sleep-deprived, you may have a poorer working memory, compared to those who are getting a good amount of zzz’s. Even if you’re moderately sleep-deprived, you’ll have about 50% slower response time and a lower concentration on simple tasks than someone who is, for instance, under the influence of alcohol.
Health experts suggest that a short nap will give you the rest you need to get through the rest of the afternoon, and you’ll sleep much better in the evening than if you drink caffeine or take a long afternoon nap.
When we don’t follow a regular sleep schedule, however, our melatonin production gets delayed, so we don’t fall asleep on time, and we experience the negative effects it has on the rest of our body functioning. Good nights’ sleep, on the other hand, enhances your ability to think clearly and stay healthy, but it also has an impact on your ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure which has a direct link to your performance.
Your ability to learn, concentrate, and retain information is greatly impacted by how well-rested you are. Insufficient sleep causes individuals to be more emotionally unstable, or moody, and has been tied to problems like aggression and forgetfulness. Some researches also suggests that individuals who lack sufficient sleep are more prone to unethical behavior. These factors can have significant negative consequences for organizational teamwork and individual performance.
Not so long ago, I was suffering from sleeping issues, wasn’t able to get a quality night’s rest and was feeling very moody during the days. However, since I started making simple changes in my daytime routine and my bedtime habits, I started to notice a positive impact on my quality of sleep.
I am now feeling mentally sharp, emotionally balanced and full of energy all day long. In the ideal situation, I would go to sleep when I feel tired, and I’d wake up naturally when I’ve had enough of sleep.
Our body is an intelligent organism, which, if we don’t mess with it, would sync our biological processes to the day and night cycle and we won’t have to think about it. Unfortunately, we all know that this can’t really happen in this modern world.
The society system that we live in has its ways of taking over our lives by constantly scheduling our time. Usually that starts pretty early, when we are still kids. When we finally escape the schedule at the end of the day, we naturally want to spend the few hours left on some actual fun stuff.
After all, there are so many books to read, movies to see, video games to play, parties to go on, and friends to get pizza at midnight with. There are just too many distractions and we tend to mess our body’s systems with them. For instance:
- Prioritizing work, class, and yet another episode of the favorite night series over a good night’s sleep.
- Partying till the morning light on Fridays and Weekends.
- Exposing ourselves to artificial light long after the sun has set.
- Staring at the screens of our devices till late at night.
- Having energy drinks with caffeine and stimulants in the evening.
- Eating late and overeating right before bedtime, and many more.
Living like that, you aren’t likely to get excellent sleep, nor will you feel well-rested and energetic in the morning. And it goes without saying that you would be least interested in taking on your morning routine or waking up early.
Recommended read: How To Wake Up Early?
Now, I agree that everyone has their individual daily tasks and sleep needs and one size doesn’t fit all, but here are my suggestions on how to establish some basic guidelines on getting a good night’s sleep.
How can I get a better night’s sleep?
♦Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. It is important to listen to your body and help it set its internal clock in order to optimize the quality of your sleep.
♦Choose a bedtime when you normally feel tired and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Don’t sleep in on weekends because the more your weekend and weekday sleep schedules differ, the worse the jetlag-like symptoms you’ll experience.
♦Limit your exposure to light (both natural and artificial) if you want to shift to sleeping mode. While exposing yourself to the sun in the morning can be very refreshing, avoid sunlight in your bedroom when you want to sleep and limit your interaction with the screen of your devices about one hour before bedtime. When its time to sleep, turn the TV off, put the curtains and dim the light.
This artificial light at night confuses our hormones and stops the production of melatonin, greatly impacting the quality of our sleep and leading to some painful morning wake-ups alongside potential long term health issues.
Staying off blue light-emitting devices (discussed above) before bed time each evening is also a great way to avoid working so you can relax and prepare for sleep, but any type of work before bed should be avoided if you want quality sleep.
♦Get some movement during the day. The more energy you spend, the easier you will fall asleep when you hit the bed. If your work is sedentary and you don’t have much activity, apart from mental work, try to exercise a bit or go for a walk. I do that often and it really helps me to wind up my mind and get a sweet feeling of tiredness.
♦Watch out what you eat and drink before bedtime. Drinking coffee in the evening won’t get you a good zzz and neither will do a heavy meal. Try to have a warm relaxing tea instead and some light dinner and you would have a chance to fall asleep much easier.
There are many herbs that smell amazing and can help you relax without the need for artificial supplements and one of my favorites is the Mint cup of tea. But I need to warn you – avoid drinking too many liquids right before hitting the bed because you may spend the night in the bathroom 😀
♦Improve your sleep environment. What I have found works best to set my mind to the sleeping mode is to make my room dark, cool, and quiet. If you don’t have thick curtains or can’t eliminate the noise from traffic, neighbors or machines, invest in a set of sleeping mask and earplugs.
This works best if you share a room or want to sleep in hours when the family members are up. Also, make sure you get enough of fresh air, change the sheets with freshly washed ones, use lavender essential oil or another natural relaxing air freshener, put your favorite pajamas on and cuddle up in a fluffy cover.
♦Make sure your bed is comfortable. In case that you often wake up with an aching neck or a sore back, you may need to experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers, and pillows that provide optimal support for your body.
♦Clear your head. Now, this is an important one because if you often find yourself unable to sleep or waking up at night due to anxiety or chronic worrying, you will definitely won’t be able to get the much needed night rest.
Oftentimes, stress, anger from the day, worries with your family, or school can keep you awake and affect your productivity and your quality of sleep. But there are steps you can take to learn how to stop worrying. For instance, what I do when I am stressed and counting sheep doesn’t help me is, I use relaxation techniques for better sleep.
Relaxation techniques for better sleep
- Deep breathing – With your eyes closed take deep, slow breaths and focus on each inhale and exhale.
- Progressive muscle relaxation – Start with tensing all the muscles as tightly as you can, and then completely relax them one by one by working your way from your toes up to the top of your head.
- Visualizing a calming and peaceful place – With your eyes closed, imagine a place that is peaceful and calm, and concentrate on how relaxed this place makes you feel.
Here are some helpful bedtime rituals to help you relax more
- Take a nice warm shower (Add some Magnesium Bath Crystals or Essential Oils for extra relaxation)
- Listen to soft, relaxing music or white noise in the background
- Do some easy gentle stretches or yoga
- Listen to audiobooks
- Do some light reading
- Dim the lights in the hours before bedtime
- Ventilate the bedroom and adjust the desired temperature
Recommended read: 8 Habits For A Better Quality Of Life
These wind-down rituals, if repeated regularly are designed to disengage your brain from things that require a high amount of mental activity and to signal to your body that the day is over and that it’s time to rest. Similarly to a morning routine, the evening routine is equally important and can help you calm down so you can fall asleep.
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Other reads on good night’s sleep:
Healthy Sleep Tips – Including ideal room temperature, noise, and light control.
5 Foods that Help You Sleep – Food, related directly to serotonin, the hormone that helps promote healthy sleep.
Stress Less, Sleep More – Tips for reducing stress to promote better sleep.