We’ve all been there. A large workload, evening out with friends, or a book you can’t put down throws your sleep schedule for a loop. The next day you’re groggy and irritable, wondering if the late-night was worth it.
Sleep is really important but often neglected. According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep supports almost every system in the body.
The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, the CDC has found that almost a third of Americans are getting less than six hours of sleep per night.
How Does Sleep Affect Productivity?
Productivity is one of the first things to suffer when sleep is lacking. In 2007 theNational Library of Medicine published a study reporting that 38% of employees experienced workplace fatigue in the last two weeks.
Under-slept employees are more likely to make errors and have increased reaction times. Depending on the job field, seconds can be important. Doctors, first responders, and truckers need snappy reaction times to perform their jobs safely.
In a 2016 Forbes article Michael Thorpy, Director of Sleep Disorders at Sleep-Wake Disorders Center outlined some of the most dangerous aspects of lack of sleep.
"Sleep deprivation will definitely affect one’s ability to multitask. Driving is the most intensive multitasking activity we do—it uses hands, feet, vision, awareness of what’s going on. When you’re sleep-deprived, it strongly affects your ability to multitask… sleep deprivation drains your executive function,” Thorpy said.
Plus, working while under-slept can leave you irritable and more susceptible to stress. Even losing two hours of sleep over a two-week period has shown a decline in people’s ability to perform certain tasks.
If you work in a creative field, lack of sleep can hit you even harder. Forbes found that creative thinking and problem-solving are diminished when sleep quality is reduced.
Why You Need to Sleep
If a lack of productivity, creativity, and a crippling reliance on coffee was not enough to convince you to turn off the lights a little earlier, here are a few more reasons.
Sleep helps solidify memory
According to Forbes, sleep helps your brain file away memories. While you sleep the brain strengthens important neural connections while discarding unimportant things you experienced throughout the day.
Sleep consolidates negative emotions and makes them more available to process. If someone undergoes something traumatic coupled with lack of sleep, the memory is more likely to be suppressed and hidden away, potentially causing more pain.
Sleep promotes physical health
Chronic sleep deprivation has a laundry list of consequences. Higher rates ofobesity, heart disease, cognitive declines such as depression and dementia have been reported in individuals with sleep issues.
Tips for Getting Your Best Sleep
The number one thing you should be doing to get better sleep is making it a priority. Most people make to-do lists throughout the day, so what is keeping you from adding a bedtime to the list?
Get more sunlight during the day to tap into your circadian rhythm, limit caffeine intake in the afternoon, reduce naps and take a sleep aid if needed. Prioritizing sleep will boost your productivity and give your brain the fuel it needs to perform at its best.