We all know what a great night’s sleep feels like. We feel rested, revitalised and ready to face the day. It’s easier to stick to whatever diet we’re on, to motivate ourselves to exercise, to push ourselves to be better at work.
On the other hand, when we’re under slept, we fall victim to cravings, crabbiness and lethargy. We choose donuts over granola, get road rage, and make stupid mistakes at work that would never happen if we’d only got a decent kip!
We all know how our mindset can affect our body and our actions. And if that mindset happens to be set to ‘sleep mode’, well… it doesn’t paint the prettiest picture!
Listen up: sleep is one of the easiest, and cheapest, ways to boost your productivity and to achieve a healthier, happier life.
#1 Sleep improves memory
Science has shown us that yes, there’s a definite link between great sleep and great memory. Because even though we mightn’t be able to learn new things in our sleep, we can brush up on certain skills, like linguistic ones. Basically, whatever information that the brain has taken in during the day gets recorded more efficiently.
Because while we’re asleep, the brain is far from it. It’s busy replaying the day’s events – in a process known as ‘consolidation’ – and making lasting neural connections. (If sleep is continuously broken, this process is less successful.) Furthermore, the brain makes new connections between neurons as we rest; with the connections in a well-rested person being of a much higher volume than one who is sleep-deprived.
So not only can we remember information more efficiently, we take in more in the first place. Sounds like a pretty productive process to me!
#2 Sleep helps you make wise decisions
When it comes to making any big decision, people might decide to “sleep on it”. And with good reason. Because when we get enough sleep, our brain’s cognitive function is enhanced; when we’re sleep-deprived, it’s significantly diminished.
By how much, you might ask? Well, one study found that missing just two hours’ sleep equated to having two or three alcoholic drinks. So think of some of the bad decisions you’ve made/embarrassing texts you’ve sent after a couple of beers and you’ll know how big a problem it can be! Ensure you get the right amount of sleep by choosing the best mattress for you. Alongside investing in a good mattress, I would also recommend reading this article which contains 10 sleep tips.
Simply put, bad sleep leads to us making unhealthy lifestyle choices or poor career moves. Suddenly your productivity levels plunge into nothingness, and it’s not really your fault; it was the sleepy mind that did it! So those niggling voices in your head, the ones that might tell you to knock off work early, or to skip that workout, would do well to get a proper rest.
#3 Sleep makes you healthier
No matter who you’re sleeping with, or what you’re sleeping on, good sleep has the ability to make you the best version of you. Its physical and mental benefits are not to be sniffed at. It can ease back pain, alleviate migraines, ward off colds, strengthens the immune system and basically keeps you in great shape.
Mentally, sleep can help to combat bigger problems like anxiety and depression, plus the more everyday stuff, like irritability and lethargy. If you’re well-rested, you’ll be able to see the big picture and you’ll know what you need to do to get there (without it seeming like a daunting prospect).
And by staying fit, motivated and healthy, you’re more likely to be productive and to power down that ‘to-do list’… without needing 3 sick days to recover.
So the next time you’re facing a challenge for which you need a lot of energy, start by getting some rest. You’ll be much better placed to achieve what you need to come morning.
How to start sleeping better
Now that you know sleep can make you more productive, how do you improve yours? Great question? There’s lots of ways to improve your sleep patterns, but the top-level ones are:
- Get into an evening routine: To avoid confusing your body clock and ensuring you get enough rest, every night of the week.
- Turn off electronic devices: Do this an hour before bedtime to help your mind settle down, instead of being overstimulated by blue light.
- Buy some blue light blocking glasses – I recommend the ones from BluBlox – read about my four week blue light blocking experience
- Eat well and exercise often: Swap the caffeine and the sugar for sleep-promoting food and drink like almond milk, sesame seeds and bananas. And make sure to exercise for at least half an hour every day, with as much fresh air as you can, to help your mind and body relax when it’s time to settle down.
- Have a bath before bed – this will help your body relax.
- Read the book Why We Sleep – this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s by Matthew Walker.
- Avoid eating late at night – avoid food 2 hours before bed.
- Take some supplements – I recommend Magnesium and Zinc. Here are 3 sleep supplements which I take.
Try out these tips, start sleeping better, and enjoy a healthier, happier and more productive lifestyle for all the days that follow.