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Want to Be Better at Your Job? Sleep on It.

Center for Creative Leadership

Global Nonprofit

Here’s a novel idea to make you more productive and less stressed at work: GO TO BED EARLY.

In our hyper-connected culture, we try to squeeze out more and more from ourselves and others. We push for productivity, an edge, the next new thing.

When it seems there are not enough hours in the day, something has to give. Often, it’s sleep. But sleep is not a luxury, and it shouldn’t be regarded as one.

In fact, sleeping less reduces brain power, productivity, and the ability to communicate. It also diminishes concentration, lowers creativity and impairs memory and motor skills. Even armed with this knowledge, turning out the lights when you’ve got a never-ending to-do list and a lot on your mind is easier said than done.

Ease into better sleep habits by trying one or more of these tips from the Center for Creative Leadership:

1. Set a regular schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (even on weekends) reinforces a consistent sleep cycle. Set a schedule that allows you to get the hours of sleep you need. Although some people need less and some more, the average adult needs 7 to 8 hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

2. Create a relaxing environment

Adults are great at creating relaxing environments for children, but we should do the same for ourselves, too. Adjust the temperature, lights and sounds in the room to be as conducive to sleep as possible. Some people engage in a relaxing ritual such as taking a warm bath or applying lotion. Use earplugs or blackout curtains if necessary.

3. Use fitness wearables to understand your individual needs

Most have sleep-tracking functionality that will help you gain insight into how much you’re sleeping and the kinds of activities that impair or promote good sleep.

4. Exercise — but not right before bed

Exercise promotes good sleep, but it can act as a stimulant if it is done too close to bedtime.

5. Disconnect from your electronic devices

Put your devices away before going to bed. The combination of constant connectivity and blue light is known to interfere with sleep.

6. Put your work aside before you go to bed

Mindfulness practices and other stress-reduction techniques are helpful for learning how to relax your mind.

7. Keep tabs on alcohol and caffeine

We all know that caffeine can interfere with rest, but people are less aware that alcohol can also have a negative impact. A drink at bedtime may help you fall asleep, but it can also decrease the quality of your sleep and wake you when it wears off.

8. Understand and honor your sleep needs

Some of us are night owls and do our best work late at night, while others are early birds who are most productive in the morning. Honor your natural tendencies by paying attention to what times of day you feel most alert and planning to do the most difficult or challenging tasks during those “on” times.

Not sure where to begin? Sleep on it! You’ll wake up with a clearer mind, ready for a fresh start.

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