Yawning at your desk or having foggy thoughts in the afternoon is common. According to the National Sleep Foundation, this sleepiness is drastically affecting your work performance. Our brains are less creative, don’t efficiently process data, and struggle to retain new information when drowsy. This leaves many of us submitting work that isn’t our best on the daily.
Why is sleep important to begin with?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep contributes to healthy brain function, emotional well-being, physical health, and improved daytime performance. It is crucial for succeeding in the workplace, being present with family at home, and staying involved in our communities.
How much sleep should I be getting?
It is recommended adults 18 years or older get between seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Yet, a staggering 40% of Americans don’t get the recommended minimum seven hours of sleep each night, according to a recent Gallup poll. If you are a fan of naps, it is important to note while quick naps can give you a short-term boost of energy, experts say they don’t provide the same benefits of a full night’s rest.
When we lose sleep at night, we usually shrug it off and keep going about our day. While you may not feel it immediately, a few nights of poor sleep can have a major impact on your ability to function throughout the week, suggests the National Sleep Foundation.
Life is busy. We get it! Between work, parenting, classes, exercise, grocery shopping, etc. it’s difficult to fit everything into one day without compromising precious sleep. So, how do you sleep better at night so you can tackle everything on your list during the day? Here are some tips from HealthGuide:
#1 Keep in sync with your body’s natural cycle
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day will work wonders for your body’s ability to fall and stay asleep. This sets your internal clock and helps you achieve the full 7-8 hours each night.
Stick with your bedtime, even on the weekends. Staying up and sleeping in too late can mess with your body’s sleep patterns. Sure, there will be events where you can’t control the schedule, and sometimes you will un-intentionally pull an all-nighter because it’s Friday and you have two seasons of your favorite show to watch. Life is all about balance, but when it comes to sleep, being consistent about what time you go to bed can only improve your sleep results.
#2 Control your exposure to light
Did you know melatonin is controlled by light exposure? You brain naturally secretes more melatonin when it’s dark (making you sleepy) and less when it’s light (making you more alert). Soaking up sunlight in the morning, spending time outside in the afternoon, and letting natural light into your office can help you sleep better at night. If natural sunlight is limited during winter months, consider purchasing a light therapy box. This artificial light simulates sunshine and improves your mood making it perfect for cold, winter mornings at the office.
Say no to screen time one to two hours before going to bed. This one is difficult, we know. For most of us, scrolling through Facebook or watching a Netflix series is our favorite way to wind down after a long day. Unfortunately, the artificial light from screens sends signals to our brain saying it’s time to be awake. Plus, many TV shows tend to be stimulating rather than relaxing.
#3 Think about what you eat and drink
What you eat throughout the day and hours before bedtime play a big role in your body’s ability to fall and stay asleep. Limiting caffeine to mornings only, cutting back on sugary foods, and avoiding big meals right before bed will set you up for success.
Regular exercise is vital to overall health and plays an important role in sleeping better at night. The more intense the workout, the more sleep benefits you’ll receive. But you don’t need to be power lifting or running marathons, even light exercise produces benefits. For best results, avoid working out at least three hours before bed.
# 5 Quiet your body and mind
Do you fall asleep easily only to wake up a couple hours later? In most cases, this is a result of stress, worry, or anger accumulated throughout the day. The best way to combat this is by managing your stress levels and unwinding before bed. If you struggle with this, try taking a bath, meditating, listening to an audio book, or other relaxation techniques.
#6 Create your ideal sleep environment
While we can’t control every factor that impedes your ability to sleep, there are some tips and tricks for creating an ideal environment. If traffic or noisy neighbors keep you up, use a fan or noise machine to mask the sound. Earplugs are another good option. Keep the room cool and make sure your bed is comfortable.
#7 Learn ways to get back to sleep
Knowing how to calm your mind so you can fall back to sleep is what will make or break your night. Stressing over your inability to sleep only makes doing so more difficult. Instead, make relaxation your goal, not sleep. To do this, try a relaxation technique such as meditation, visualization, or progressive muscle relaxation. If you are waking from anxieties or new business ideas, simply jot them down on a notepad beside your bed. Leave these thoughts for the next day so you can focus on resting for the remainder of the night.
Research shows better sleep leads to a more productive day at work. We hope these tips help you achieve a full night of rest. Be a wellness champion in your office by showing coworkers how prioritizing sleep improves your mood, well-being, and work performance.