Sleep Your Way to the Top: The Importance of Getting Your Zzz’s

It’s often overlooked, but a good night’s rest plays a huge factor in a person’s well-being, especially when it comes to that person’s career. PayScale takes a look at how catching up on your zzz’s can help boost your productivity and make you a happy camper at work.

a good night's rest

(Photo Credit: motoyen/Flickr)

All of us are guilty of hitting the “snooze” button five times too many in the morning, but why is that? According to a recent study by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “Acute or chronic insomnia is one of the most prevalent sleep disorders” and it “affects approximately 23 percent of all U.S. workers, resulting in 367 million lost work days per year, and the cost to employers is nearly $63.2 billion per year in medical expenses and lost productivity.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that most adults need approximately 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, however “30 percent of civilian employed U.S. adults (approximately 40.6 million workers) reported sleeping an average of less than six hours per day.”

No wonder the morning commute is such a hostile one -- nearly everyone is sleep deprived on some level, frustrated, and probably driving to a dead-end job. Sleep deprivation can be voluntary (staying up late purposely) or involuntary (sleep disorders), so let’s take a look at some of the involuntary reasons that prevent a good night’s rest:

  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Age
  • Technology

Here are some ways to unwind before bed, if you’re finding yourself tossing and turning every night in bed:

1. Unplug from technology - According to a study by the Lighting Research Center at the Rensselar Polytechnic Institute found that “a two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 23 percent [that] may affect sleep in those using the devices prior to bedtime.” To help promote healthy sleep, limit or discontinue your phone/technology use at least one hour before your intended bed time.

2. Take a warm, relaxing bath - Who doesn’t get relaxed from a nice, relaxing bath? Throw some aromatic bath salts in there while you’re at it. We’re getting drowsy just thinking about it.

3. Meditate or read quietly- Quieting your mind is a great way to unwind and relax your body before hitting the sack. Do anything to keep your mind from wandering into the depths of work stress or negative ruminations.

4. Limit caffeine and sugar intake in the evening - Caffeine and sugar can affect your body for up to 10 hours after intake, so that fifth cup of coffee or helping to the candy bowl at 3 p.m. could make the difference between a peaceful night’s sleep and tossing and turning.

5. Exercise or take a walk around the block - Exercising regularly can help you get better quality sleep (deeper sleep and less interruptions throughout the night) versus slouching on the couch and “unwinding” after a hard day’s work. Not only does exercise have positive benefits for getting some good shut-eye, but it can help eliminate restless leg syndrome, ward off sleep apnea, and help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night. Even a 30-minute walk around the block can make a huge impact on your rest, but don’t expect results overnight -- regular exercise is the key.

So, the next time you decide to skip out on counting sheep, just remember -- a car cannot run without fuel, and your brain cannot (and will not) function properly without proper sleep.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you one of the millions of workers affected by bad sleep? If so, share with our community on how not getting proper sleep impacts your job. Tell your story on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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