In case you haven’t heard, the quality of your sleep can make or break your performance at work. A huge number of studies now corroborate the fact that insufficient sleep can wreak havoc on your ability to focus, get along with coworkers, effectively manage tasks, and sustain your overall productivity.
On the other hand, regularly enjoying high-quality sleep will have the opposite effect: It will improve your concentration, make you a more innovative thinker, facilitate positive relationships, increase your resilience in the face of a demanding workload, and generally make you more productive at work. So if you’re looking to get ahead in your career, it is really important that you commit to getting the best sleep you can. Here’s how to make it happen.
Avoid stimulation before bed.
Caffeine, nicotine, intense TV shows, emotional conversations, and even aerobic exercise right before bed can all stimulate the body’s nervous system and make it harder to fall asleep. Whenever possible, avoid exercising, watching TV, having serious conversations, or consuming caffeine (whether in the form of coffee, tea, soda, or chocolate) in the evening. And go ahead and ditch the nicotine habit completely, because it’s not doing you any favors outside the bedroom either.
Establish a calming bedtime routine.
In addition to avoiding stimulants, make a point of embracing calming activities before bed by dedicating the hour before bedtime to avoid sleep apnea. This might consist of meditation, restorative yoga, a long bath, reading a pleasant book, relaxation exercises, and so on. Research suggests a relaxing bedtime routine can make it easier to fall asleep and increase the odds that you’ll sleep soundly through the night.
Make your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark.
Studies have found that the most sleep-inducing environment is one that is quiet, shielded from light, and cooler than 75 degrees (but warmer than 54 degrees). If this doesn’t describe your bedroom, make some tweaks to your sleeping environment by investing in heavy curtains, noise-cancelling headphones (if necessary), and a thermostat that you can control manually within the bedroom. Also avoid using electronics in bed, as the blue light emitted by TVs, tablets, smartphones, and so on is notoriously disruptive to sleep.
Upgrade your bedding.
A variety of studies have found that the more comfortable your sleeping surface, the more likely you are to fall and stay asleep. So it’s worth forking over the funds to invest in a comfortable mattress, luxurious sheets, head-cradling pillows, and so on. Most mattresses wear out within nine or 10 years, but if you’re not sleeping well on a regular basis it may be necessary to upgrade sooner.
Maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle.
While it’s tempting to stay up late and sleep in on the weekends, this can actually damage your sleep quality all week long. Your body sleeps best when it can anticipate going to bed and waking up at the same time, so try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule seven days a week. If you must shake things up a bit on the weekends, try not to diverge from your schedule by more than one hour on either side.
As anyone going through a stressful life event can attest, stress is a serious sleep-killer. That’s why it’s so important to commit to managing stress in your waking hours so it’s less likely to keep you up at night. Regular exercise, spending time in nature, and relaxation techniques including yoga and meditation are all proven ways to keep your worries in check so they don’t take over your mind when your head hits the pillow.
When you invest in your sleep, you get back a major return on investment in the form of greater focus, morale, and productivity at work.