Productive Sleep: 5 Things You Should Know

Sleep happens to be one of the most important things that we do each day. How we sleep affects our memory, learning ability, mood and health. Too much or too little sleep can have negative effects that will last us throughout the day and interfere with our work.

While it’s easy to say “get enough sleep,” it’s not always easy to achieve. Here are some ideas:

  • Listen to your body. Though I was raised to believe that we should get around eight hours’ of sleep each night, the National Sleep Foundation claims that there is no “magic number.” Apparently, sleep needs vary depending on your age, gender and other factors. Though seven to nine hours is a good guideline, you need to find out what works for you.
  • Sleep debt can be repaid. No matter how diligent you are, it’s possible that some days you might not get as much sleep as you need. The good news is that this “sleep debt” can be repaid. This doesn’t mean that you can sleep for  three hours during the weekdays then spend your entire Sunday sleeping as a way to make up for it. According to the this article from Scientific American, you can add an hour or two of sleep each day until your body catches up.
  • Nap during the day. There might be very busy days when you’ll tire easily or need an extra jolt to get you through the rest of the day. But before you reach for that cup of coffee, know that the best way to combat tiredness is through  napping. Taking 20-minute power naps during the day is known to improve productivity and can recharge you better than caffeine. It’s also much easier for teleworking professionals to pull this off compared to their cubicle-dwelling peers.
  • Sleep after learning something new. “Sleep may allow the brain to reprocess newly learned information so that memories of it stick. Research that uses technology to peer inside the brain supports this idea,” according to this article from the Society for Neuroscience. This means that the best way to commit new skills to your long-term memory is to sleep after learning new skills.
  • Finally, don’t worry about it. It turns out that not everyone who feels sleep deprived is actually sleep deprived. This article suggests that our worries about sleep are affecting the quality of sleep we get. According to the author, “one of the surprising disadvantages of trying to get enough sleep is that you can be hypersensitive to those times you don’t get enough — and that the hypersensitivity alone can depress and distract you.”

What’s your sleep schedule like and how does it affect your workday?

Photo by stock.xchng user scataudo

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