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How does the amount of sleep you get, affect your productivity?

Posted by: Megan Speet

On average, we will spend around 36% of our lives asleep. This alone shows how important it is to get enough sleep, without listing all the benefits it is an obvious necessity for us to remain at optimal productivity levels during our working day. For a long time, sleep has been seen as an inconvenience and working late seen as a badge of pride and a reflection of how productive we are, especially in some finance jobs and sales or broker roles, but neuroscience studies have revealed just how big an impact a lack of sleep can have.

A BBC study has shown that the positive impact of sleep goes much deeper than just how well we work during the day. It details, “Deep sleep sounds restful, but during it our brains are actually working hard. One of the main things the brain is doing is moving memories from short-term storage into long-term storage, allowing us more short-term memory space for the next day. If you don’t get adequate sleep then these memories will be lost.” So all of you university students trying to pull all-nighters and survive on can after can of Red Bull – stop! You need to allow yourself an adequate amount of time to fall into a deep sleep in order to process everything from that day, with 7-8 hours remaining the magic number.

As well as information retention, sleep is also vital for reducing stress levels, according to the report. Maybe you have a long commute to work, or targets and deadlines to hit, but whichever form your stress takes, if you find yourself becoming aggravated easily another hour of sleep could be just what you need. The report states, “During REM sleep an extraordinary thing happens. One of the stress-related chemicals in the brain, noradrenalin, is switched off. It’s the only time, day or night, that this happens. It allows us to remain calm while our brains reprocess all the experiences of the day, helping us come to terms with particularly emotional events.”

It doesn’t take amazing time-management skills to factor in an extra hour a day for sleep. Try having your work lunch made the night before, or go to the gym after work instead of before. If you’re still unsure how to manage a restful, good nights sleep, have a look at these 5 essential tips as recommended by neuroscientist and sleep expert, Professor Russell Foster:

1.         Try to avoid too much caffeine. After a bad night’s sleep, most people will try to fuel their day with coffee, then try to force sleep at night with sedatives such as pills or alcohol, completely eradicating the benefits of sleep, thus needing more caffeine again the next morning.

2.         Turn off your screens half an hour before bed. Turn your TV off, put down your iPad or Kindle, put your phone down, or whatever it may be. Allow yourself the time to wind down and switch off so you can fall into a natural sleep.

3.         Embrace the darkness. Your mind and body set themselves naturally on a light/dark sleep cycle. The darker your bedroom is, the easier it will be to sleep.

4.         Keep your room cool. We all know what it feels like to try and fall asleep on a hot summer night, so if you can keep your room slightly cool, you will sleep better.

5.         Seek out morning light. Light in the morning as much as darkness at night helps your biological clock set a routine. 

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