If you’re burning the midnight oil for work, you’re in trouble. All that time at your desk means you’re missing out on a key performance ingredient: sleep. Studies show that we’re happier when we get more sleep, but how does that translate to the office? You might be surprised.
(Photo Credit: Lawrence Harman/Flickr)
The main reason why we don’t work as well when we’re sleep-deprived is that we can’t … can’t … what did you ask me? Oh right! FOCUS! What’s worse is that those sleep-deprived braggarts in your cube farm – you know, the ones who boast that they only got four hours of sleep, but they totally nailed that presentation anyway? – they won’t notice when their focus is drifting a minute later. While you may be able to throw a Hail Mary, the rest of the day is going to be one long slog. Studies show that concentration can be affected by sleep deprivation. It’s why some states are legislating against drowsy driving as much as drunk driving.
Recharge With a Nap (or Meditation)
Lots of workplaces, especially in high-power areas like tech or finance, have embraced the power nap over the years. But not all of us work someplace with a nap room (or pod!). There are still ways you can recharge at work that don’t include a George Costanza desk.
You can take some time to meditate at work and find your inner calm in the middle of the hectic day. Apps and websites like Calm can give you some musical meditation breaks that are timed. (Set it for 10 minutes and after getting peaceful, you’ll get a gentle nudge to get back to work.) You may find meditation helps you deal with stress and lower your blood pressure, too.
Make Your Downtime Count (Sheep)
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night – when you should be getting your main Zzzz’s – then try some tips from the National Sleep Foundation:
1. Stick to a schedule (bedtime is ___ o’clock and wake up time is ___ o’clock). And no sleeping in on the weekends! That just makes Monday morning even harder.
2. Create a bedtime ritual. If you have kids, you know that a routine before bedtime can make it all go smoother. You’re not much different as an adult. And yeah, this means no screentime before bed. Trade the Kindle for a real book, avoid a bedroom TV, and try some calming aromatherapy like lavender or chamomile.
3. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals before bed. That afternoon coffee may seem like a great treat, but it’s hurting you come bedtime. Switch to decaf or better yet, hydrate with some water instead.
4. Get exercise every day! If you’re not wearing out your body with some healthy exercise, your engine may not know how to shut down when you need it to. And if your workout after work winds you up (try saying that three times fast), switch to a morning or midday exercise session to give your muscles plenty of time to cool down before you turn off the light.
5. Don’t work in bed. In fact, professionals in the sleep department recommend that the bedroom remain your designated sleeping area, and nothing else. Don’t cram your head full of workday stress and then expect to just shut off and get a restful night’s sleep. Those endless spreadsheet nightmares can be traumatizing.
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