Google “improve my productivity” and prepare to be inundated with oodles of quick tips for boosting your efficiency. Many experts recommend that you create a to-do list, set strict deadlines, or eliminate distractions. But what if we told you that your plan for a productive day should start the night before?
Most of us operate under the assumption that if we sleep one hour less, we will have one additional hour during the day to get things done. That is a myth. Sleep and productivity go hand in hand.
Did you know that Amnesty International lists sleep deprivation as a form of torture? That’s because when we are sleep deprived, our brains can’t acquire or process information normally. When we lack sleep, we become unfocused, have trouble making decisions, are easily influenced, and make more errors. Our memory suffers, as does our reaction time. Lack of sleep affects our mood and our ability to cope with stress. It also hinders our creativity.
Sleep is not only essential to your overall health and well-being—it’s also important to your business’s bottom line. A study by CEGEP Champlain–St. Lawrence, Quebec, claims that insomnia costs the Canadian economy $20 billion each year, mostly because of absenteeism and productivity loss. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a sleep-deprived person’s concentration, quality of work, and productivity can each decline by 30 percent.
To wake up feeling refreshed and to be most productive, on average we need about eight hours of sleep. Here are some tips to help ensure you are getting your productivity sleep.
Find a routine.
Consistency is key when it comes to getting your eight hours. Start getting into the habit of going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. Even on the weekends!
Take an hour before you go to bed to wind down. Do whatever makes you feel relaxed. Perhaps that means avoiding electronics, taking a warm bubble bath, or reading a great book. Whatever the activity, the purpose should be to slow down and ease your mind, preparing it to rest.
Write it down.
Instead of hitting your pillow and thinking about items on your to-do list or the things that are stressing you out, grab a journal and write them down before bed. Just the simple act of writing them down will tell your brain that it is okay to rest, and that you can deal with those things in the morning. An added bonus is that you will already have your action plan for tomorrow.
Mindfulness focuses on the present moment. The goal is to consider our thoughts and feelings from a distance without judging them as right or wrong. With practice, you can learn to slow down brain chatter and as a result, change the way you react and respond to situations by seeing things more clearly.
- Find a comfortable position—in a chair with your feet on the ground, sitting on the floor with your legs crossed, or lying in your bed.
- Place your hands in your lap.
- Begin to focus on your breathing, paying attention to your inhalations and exhalations.
Do this for five minutes to start. Build up your time with daily practice. Don’t worry if your mind wanders: acknowledge those thoughts and then refocus on your breath.
English dramatist Thomas Dekker described sleep as “that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” Why not power through the day with a healthy, well-rested body and mind?