Sleep better and you’ll be better at everything from decision making to performance at work, says dietitian Alex Parker.
How many hours of sleep did you get last night? If you slept for six or less, you’ll be less productive at work today than work colleagues who slept for seven or eight hours, says new research out of Cambridge University in the UK. The study of more than 21,000 UK employees found that a lack of sleep was second only to financial concerns as the biggest factor affecting productivity at work.
Exactly how a lack of sleep affects productivity comes down to its effect on our perception and judgment. Sleep deprivation negatively impacts our mood, our ability to focus and our ability to access higher-level cognitive functions like concentration, memory and logical reasoning. All of us would be able to relate to the feeling of fogginess the day following a bad night’s sleep. How much longer it takes to complete our work as we struggle to focus or string together sentences for an important email or report. So to get more done at work and home, it makes sense for us to get our beauty sleep.
According to Professor David Hillman from the Sleep Health Foundation, women are more likely to be lacking in sleep compared to men. So just why aren’t we getting enough sleep? Perhaps it’s the 24/7 nature of today’s society, our high stress levels or even our inability to see sleep as a priority. But the good news is, when it comes to improving your sleep patterns, are few simple changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact on your quality and quantity of sleep.
With the help of sleep expert, Professor Hillman, we’ve got four things you can do to instantly get a better night’s sleep:
- Make sleep a priority: It’s easy to get caught up in a bad habit of poor sleep, but take a step back and reprioritise sleep in your life. Make time for sleep instead of thinking ditching it for something else.
- Lock in regular sleep hours: Try to keep regular hours of sleep. Most of us need between 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep each night. If we stick to regular hours then our body’s natural sleep/wake cycle will be much more robust.
- Establish a bedtime routine: Establishing a routine about 30 minutes prior to sleeping is essential. Find something relaxing to ease your body into sleep time whether it be reading a book or magazine or having a warm bath.
- Ensure a comfortable bedroom environment: Getting the bedroom environment right is also very important, says Professor Hillman. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and cool, as this can help to promote slumber. Avoid exposure to technology directly prior to or during sleep, as this can disrupt your internal body clock, confusing the brain into thinking that it is daytime.
If you find that you are following these tips and still have trouble sleeping or experience daytime fatigue, it’s definitely worth seeking advice from your GP.
Photo Credit: Ingimage
About the Author
Alex Parker is a nutritionist and dietitian who is passionate about individual wellbeing. She has experience in a number of areas including weight loss, sports nutrition, the elderly and childhood nutrition. Alex is dedicated to helping individuals achieve optimal health through a balanced and practical approach to nutrition. She loves to run and this year ticked the full marathon off her bucket list. For more information and delicious recipes, visit The Biting Truth or follow her on Instagram @thebitingtruth.