Sleep, or a lack of sleep, can have a big impact on your day-to-day energy levels, especially when your work productivity is at stake. Experts recommend 6-8 hours of sleep every night; otherwise, you’re not likely to function at your best. Let’s face it; we can’t all be like Einstein or da Vinci and coast by on just a few hours of sleep, But in a day and age where everyone’s schedule looks like a game of Tetris, how do you prevent sleep problems from affecting your work performance and what are the lingering effects caused by sleep loss?
How Lack of Sleep Affects You
Lost sleep or sleeping problems affect your brain and basic functions. When you regularly miss sleep, the first symptoms, other than lack of energy, is a loss in attention and concentration. Obviously it’s going to be hard to think about anything when all that’s on your mind is keeping your eyelids open and your head from bobbing at your desk. Other factors include reduced reaction time, cloudy decision-making and loss of memory.
Causes of Lost Sleep
A lack of exercise and the change of seasons can have an impact on your sleep cycle and depth of REM. Exercise gets your blood flowing and heart pumping, preventing you from feeling sluggish. Working up a little sweat every day can give you a mental and physical edge over fatigue.
In winter, the shorter days deprive your body from excessive light throughout the day, tricking your body into thinking that it’s been “asleep” already. Not to mention the holidays and the heavy meals we consume that cause our body to stay active longer into the night digesting food.
Lastly, winter’s role as cold and flu season can prevent a good night’s rest. Let’s face it, no one sleeps very well when they’re hacking, coughing, sneezing and blowing their nose all through the night.
So, how do you counteract these common sleep problems in adults and get the most out of your day’s energy supply?
Look to the Light
Strong indoor lighting can help you to feel more alert, but your body really needs some bright, natural UV light from the sun to charge its energy bar. A short, brisk walk outside during working hours can give you that second wind to power through those last sluggish hours in the afternoon.
Capitalize On When you’re Most Alert
If you’re a morning person, get up early and work out to get the blood flowing. Schedule meetings or tackle projects in the AM and likewise for PM, if you’re an afternoon conqueror. Know when you function best and then do your best. Managing when you’re most effective in the day can help you boost productivity at work.
Don’t overdo it
As a society, we tend to overbook, overschedule and over multi-task ourselves to the point of exhaustion. Whether it’s personal or professional, establishing a work life balance is imperative to achieving the time and quality of sleep necessary to excel. Look at your calendar and do some rearranging if need be, you’re body will thank you for it in the long run.
Take in Caffeine – In Moderation
Need a little boost to get the morning started but don’t’ have time for a workout? Coffee/caffeine in the AM can help increase your work productivity to keep you alert and focused. Just don’t overdo it or take it late. Caffeine can affect your sleep 8-10 hours after consumption. If you’re not into caffeinated beverages or coffee, don’t fret. Chamomile tea is a double threat that can naturally help ward off insomnia and boost your immune system preventing illness.
If You Have to, Implement Naptime
It’s simple. If you’re feeling tired during the day and you’ve got some time, take a nap. A short power nap can help restore alertness and energy. Just be careful not to nap too late. Naps taken after 5 PM typically result in difficulty falling or staying asleep during bedtime.
Take a Sleep Aid
There are a lot of natural sleep aids and drugs available today. Melatonin, for example, is a great hormone for the sleep deprived looking for a better night’s rest. Your body naturally produces melatonin around 9 PM, when the sun goes down, and it’s sleep-oriented effects can last for about 12 hours.