Just a few days back, I was in conversation with one of my coworkers. We were discussing work and productivity. And he said that sleep is the enemy of productivity and if we sleep less, we can get more time to work.
He’s the person who swears he only need a little sleep and still feel great. Do you know someone like him and feel jealous?
Hold your jealousy for a second. Let me tell you the truth. According to National Sleep Foundation research, 90% of people don’t get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
The truth is we can’t produce a great performance without a proper sleep. In this so called busy world, most of us don’t value sleep. Do you think like sleep is a something where you can cut corners?
Let me tell you one thing: Not getting enough sleep can reduce your health and productivity. If you use sleep the right way, it can be a powerful tool to boost your energy level and make you enthusiastic at work.
I still remember the days when I didn’t get enough sleep and I noticed an immense drop in my productivity. Just four years back (when I was 21 years old), I didn’t have a sleeping pattern and I kept awake late at nights. I barely had 5 hours sleep. The result? My mind was not fully present at work and I was unable to give my best performance. I used to think I’d recover the lost sleep on weekends.
But soon I realized that I can’t recover my lost sleep. It’s not my credit card due that I can pay later. Our body and mind only cooperate with us when we have a sleep schedule.
In her book “The Sleep Revolution”, Ariana Huffington said:
“By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are. And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.”
Do you know sleep can be a very effective tool to solve a particular problem? You just have to give proper rest to your mind. Just two months back, I was working on a marketing campaign and we needed a catchy tagline for this campaign. I started thinking, but I couldn’t come up with the answer. I was feeling stuck and frustrated. It was feeling like something is blocking my mind. I was unable to think (perhaps I was putting immense pressure on my mind).
Instead of thinking more about it at night, I took a step back and allowed myself to take a good night’s sleep. When I woke up in the morning, I had a tagline in my mind. Magic!
Have you ever experienced this kind of situation? You’re working on a problem, but unable to get the answer. And when you’re sleeping, the answer or an idea pop up into your mind in the middle of the night or in the morning.
There’s a science behind it. It’s called “The Incubation Effect.”
This psychology concept put forward in 1926 by Graham Wallas, an English psychologist. The concept suggests that our brain is more effective at overcoming obstacles when it’s given time to rest.
One group of psychologists say it happens because of the effect of resting when the brain is less distracted. When you sleep or take a break from a specific problem you rest your conscious mind, but your subconscious mind continues to work on it. And when you come back fresh, so you do better. Sleep can be an effective tool to solve your problems.
Stop thinking about a problem and take some rest. You’ll be surprised at how capable your mind is. We deserve a good sleep to become more productive, focused and healthy.
Here are 5 simple sleep hacks to teach you how to do it (I’ve tested these hacks).
1. Treat sleep as part of the daily plan
How many of you make daily plans or schedules? Do you ever include sleep in your daily plan?
Not Much, right?
We know that our mind needs a proper sleep to function effectively. But we always underestimate the power of sleep. After a hard physical effort, your body needs some rest to restore the energy. Your brain also needs a proper rest to recharge.
We take sleep as an independent activity that we do at night. Change your behavior. Perhaps you never noticed, but sleep is influenced by everything you do in a day before going to bed.
Remember, It’s not just about the exact time you go to bed at night. It’s about every activity you do throughout the day. Poor eating habits, napping at the wrong times. Eating at wrong times, and other bad habits can harm your daily sleep.
Develop some good habits to build up a good sleep cycle. As I already said, if you aren’t sleeping well, you can’t do your best at work.
In a research Medisys found that people who regularly got less than six hours of sleep a night behave like they’ve had a few drinks.
2. Develop a bedtime ritual and stick with it
Are you struggling to get to sleep? You stay awake late at night, you wake up at 6 or 7 in the morning as you have to go to work, but you’re exhausted. Sounds familiar? What can you do?
Developing a bedtime ritual will help you to make an efficient sleep cycle. Go to bed at the same time. No matter what you’re doing, sleep should be your priority. Read a book before hitting your bed to calm your mind. Do meditation. Take a shower (I prefer to wash my face and legs before bed).
Try to stick with this ritual because our mind loved consistency. Why setting a ritual is so important? It helps your brain recognizes that it’s time for unwinding and relaxing and you fall asleep within minutes.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital team tracked sleep pattern of Harvard college students and found that students who go to bed at the same time every night were more successful and healthy.
Make a promise to yourself; you’ll develop a bedtime routine from tonight.
3. Turn off the electronic devices ( No blue light)
This is probably the best sleep hack in today’s digital world where electronics are the part of our life. No mobile, tablets, TV, or laptops 30 minutes before bed. Never check social media and email before bed.
In short, no electronic gadgets in your bedroom. Stay away from that blue light because the blue light will affect your sleep and will keep you awake.
Keep your mobile out of reach. Because if you keep it near you, it will urge you to check Facebook, WhatsApp or emails.
Studies have found that the blue light of electronic devices in the bedroom further disrupts the natural pattern of your sleep-wake cycle. So turn off these devices about half an hour before you sleep to unwind your brain properly. We need to control electronic devices, rather than letting them control us.
4. Try a glass of warm milk
When I was a kid, my mother insisted me to have a glass of warm milk (I didn’t like much to have milk) before going to bed and it really helped me to fall asleep in seconds. Zzz’s. It may feel an old piece of advice. But the truth is, milk contains tryptophan (an amino acid) that helps induce sleep.
Drinking warm milk is a beneficial sleep hack for the person who’s trying to get to sleep fast. It keeps your body relaxed and allows you to sleep like a baby. A study found that infants go to sleep faster after feedings.
Your mom was right about drinking milk before bed. So, if you want to have a good night’s sleep, try a glass of warm milk, rather than the caffeine.
5. Don’t rely on your alarm clock
Are you someone who rely on your alarm clock to wake up in the morning? You probably believe that this machine helps you to rise on time. But the truth is opposite! You must give control to your body and mind when to wake up, not a machine.
Dr. David Rapoport, the research director at Mount Sinai Integrative Sleep Center said,
“An alarm clock is an external cue that says ‘Get up’ at a time when your body doesn’t want you to.”
For years I have not used an alarm clock for waking up in the morning. I use BIO, NATURAL, CLOCK. It’s the way we’re designed. Before hitting my pillow at night I command my subconscious brain with a specific time for waking me.
What happens when your natural body clock manages your sleep? You feel great. More fresh. And magical.
You just need to train your mind to wake up on time by developing a regular sleep routine. Because your body wants you to sleep and wake up at the same time.