Sleep Hacks For Increased Productivity
Do you frequently find yourself sacrificing your sleep to put in more work? Don’t fret, we’ve all been there at some point in our lives. You’re exhibiting the traits of a career driven, normal human being! In spite of this, it’s not a good thing – your time isn’t optimized. Not getting sufficient sleep, or not getting quality sleep, are two factors that can have a seriously detrimental effect on your day to day productivity.
The good news is that you can utilize simple sleep hacks to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep in spite of your busy career.
How Does Sleep Work?
Before we go into the hacks in earnest, let’s discuss the process our body goes through during sleep. Our sleep comprises of repeating cycles and they can be divided into two major categories – REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, and non-REM sleep. The REM phase lasts around 70 minutes and this is the time when you dream. It is also at this point that your sleep is lightest i.e. you are most likely to wake up during this phase. Non-REM is the resting phase, a deeper level of sleep where your body recharges itself. Waking up from this phase will leave you disoriented and heavy for a few minutes. Put short, try to sleep restfully during the non-REM phase, and wake up during REM when you aren’t in a deep sleep that could result in grogginess.
To optimize your sleep, you can address two specific factors – the environment you sleep in and the activities you perform before falling asleep.
Creating The Ideal Sleep Environment
Your body remains acutely aware of its surroundings as you sleep. So you’ll need to follow the following tips to ensure that you aren’t woken up by any unwanted external events:
- Keep the noise out – try using white noise or ear plugs if required. Just as you need to shut out the light, noise cancellation is equally important for enjoying a good night’s sleep. Sudden, undesirable sounds such as cars driving by or rolling thunder can wake you up. Try playing soothing white noise to drown out the unwanted sounds – your mind isn’t irritated by peaceful sounds such as that of rainfall or the wind blowing through the trees.
- Keep the heat and humidity down – even though your body temperature automatically lowers when you fall asleep, you should still try sleeping in a cooler room than you’re usually used to – the blankets will provide you all the warmth you require. According to research, the optimum room temperature lies between 15 to 18 degrees Celsius.
- Know the difference between your living room and your bedroom – make sure that you train your mind to associate sleeping with your very own bed i.e. a bed so comfortable that your brain just won’t be alright with sleeping anywhere else! A comfortable mattress will go a long way towards this end. Even if you can’t afford a high end mattress, there are some excellent mattress toppers which are far more economical and will help you achieve the same goal.
What To Do Before Falling Asleep
As previously mentioned, the real trick is to actually fall asleep. Once you fix this, you’ll notice a huge rise in your productivity. Here are a couple of simple behavioural changes that you can implement to sleep better:
- Turn off all electronics half an hour before bedtime – after a certain point, artificial light and bright screens begin to keep your from falling asleep. There are two reasons for this – firstly, they hinder the apparition of melatonin which is required to make your body feel sleep, and secondly, they affect your circadian rhythm: this is your internal clock that controls your energy levels. If you absolutely must use a device, be sure to do so with the screen dimmed. There’s an app called f.lux which reduces blue light input to your screen automatically after a certain time (blue light has the most negative impact on your sleep)
- Be careful of what you eat or drink – four to six hours before going to bed, stay clear of alcohol, coffee or rich food such as sugary snacks or cheese. Even if they aid you in going to sleep, they will adversely affect your sleep, in particular, your REM cycles. In short, they might be responsible for you waking up multiple times in the middle of the night.