Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your work day. Losing out on sleep increases irritability and stress while lowering focus and innovation. It also hampers communication and decision making skills which are vital in virtually every profession.
You may have realised this for yourself when you turned up at the office with only a couple hours of sleep under your belt; the only two thoughts that may have crossed your head were probably ‘I hope no one tells me to do anything’ and ‘When will this day end?’
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Such days, as one would expect, should be avoided as much as possible. And while it isn't easy, it can certainly be done with some behaviour modification and changes in routine – the four most important of which are listed below.
Sleeping less than seven hours
It is a well-established fact that an adult needs no less than seven hours of sleep in a day. And it is also a well-established fact that very few people actually manage to get that much sleep on a daily basis. A 2015 report found that a staggering 93 percent of Indians are sleep-deprived. Getting an adequate amount of sleep on a regular basis not only boosts productivity at work, it also does wonders for a person's health – both physical and psychological.
Screen activity right before sleeping
A human body follows its own 24-hour biological clock known as the circadian rhythm. In addition to controlling the sleep cycle, this internal clock also regulates the body's temperature, brain activity, and a host of other biological processes. When we use electronic gadgets late at night, we subject our eyes to blue light, which increases alertness and disrupts the natural sleep cycle.
Nowadays, browsing Facebook or Instagram on our phones before sleeping has become the norm. But this habit has devastating repercussions on our overall health, which is why you should try and do away with it immediately. However, that is easier said than done, and if you still find yourself looking at screens close to your bedtime, consider using an app like f.lux, which regulates blue light emitted by screens depending on the time of day.
Eating unhealthy and eating late
Along with screen activity, an irregular eating pattern is another factor that disrupts the circadian rhythm. Eating foods high in carbohydrates, sugar, and saturated fats – which basically encompass all processed snack foods – late at night causes shorter and lighter sleep patterns. To avoid this, you should have dinner at least an hour before sleeping, and it should be a healthy, nourishing meal rather than one that is just tasty. Also, those who work in shifts causing them to be awake, and hence eat at odd times, stand a higher risk of serious medical conditions like obesity and diabetes. If possible, one should always aim for work with working hours in the day rather than at night.
Stressing about needing to sleep
The relation between stress and sleep is a catch-22 situation. The more stressed we are, the more sleep we need, but the very fact that we need to sleep often keeps up late at night. Without even accounting for personal life, there are plenty of reasons to get stressed about work – maybe it's the first day of a new job or an important meeting with the boss. It is crucial to get a good night's sleep the day before such events, but that rarely happens. Instead, we try to take our minds of these things by watching a movie or reading a book. But we still have the nagging feeling that we're losing out on sleep, which makes us even more stressed about the whole situation. At times like these, it's best to try and put all thoughts out of your mind (which will definitely take some work) and just lie in bed without distractions until you fall asleep.
If you manage to successfully break these habits, it won't be long before you realise the benefits of getting adequate sleep. And you will not only bolster productivity at work, but your social and personal life will see drastic improvements as well.