Been burning the midnight oil lately? Research shows that, while you might feel more productive in the short term, decreasing your sleep quality and quantity makes you less efficient and less energetic in the long-term. But, what can you do to make sure that you’re getting the best quality sleep? How can you avoid having to stay up late to meet deadlines? Read below to get the scoop on everything you need to know about getting your sleep schedule back on track.
Remind Yourself of the Positive Benefits of Sleep
Ok, so I’m a night owl. I know how it feels to be up at 11pm, thinking that you just need to finish that final task before turning in. Granted, I get up later than most, given my flexible work hours. But, I have definitely had my share of sleepless nights. Sometimes it feels more productive to keep going rather than calling it quits. However, the reality is that cutting down on your sleep makes you less effective. As mentioned before, when you have less sleep, lower quality sleep, or both – your work performance suffers. Specifically, you are more likely to be irritable and less likely to be alert. You are also more likely to make poor decisions and less likely to maintain focus.
While you may already know this on some level, it’s really important to believe it. Remind yourself of these things when you are tempted to continue working, even though you know you should sleep instead. You might get today’s tasks done if you stay awake, but it’s at the expense of tomorrow’s tasks. Because your decision making is worse when you have a lack of sleep, try to set a bedtime alarm on your phone. Then, set it far away from you. When the alarm goes off, close the computer and go to bed. These kinds of triggers can provide you with a set structure that is easier to follow when you’re feeling depleted.
Put Your Phone Away Before and During Sleep
While you may be able to make yourself go to bed, the temptation to continue working may remain even once you have hit the sheets. However, research shows that using your smartphone for work tasks at night, makes you less able to sleep. You are also more likely to feel exhausted the next day. You actually become less able to be engaged with your work the following day when you use your phone at night that causes lack of sleep.
Using your phone at night is especially harmful if your job isn’t flexible. For example, if you don’t have a lot of control over your work schedule, you may really need to focus on your personal life while you’re at home. One way to cope with this is to have a “lights out” rule on phones. If you pledge not to use your smartphone for work after a certain hour, or you use separate phones for work and life, this may help cut down on the temptation to work after hours. It may also make sense for you to charge your phone in a place that is out of reach. In other words, make it harder for yourself to break the “no phones in bed” rule.
Think of Your Teammates When You’re Cutting Into Your Sleep
It’s not just you who suffers when you cut back on sleep. You are also less likely to help your team members complete work tasks. Further, if you work in an environment that is hazardous, you are more likely to get hurt, leaving your team members in a lurch if you are sleep deprived. Further, you are less likely to go out of your way to be a good citizen toward others when you haven’t had good quality sleep.
So, if you are cutting into your sleep time and experiencing a lack of sleep, to make sure you don’t disappoint those around you, remember the opposite is true. You are more likely to let others down when you don’t have the sleep you need. While this can be difficult to remember in the moment, it’s also a really important reality. Be honest about what needs to get done to satisfy your coworkers’ demands. If something only feels necessary to get done (but isn’t), let it go until tomorrow.
Look to Work and Family to Find the Root Cause of Your Sleep Loss
While the solutions presented above might help you to increase your sleep, they don’t help address the root cause of lack of sleep. Work and family demands both cause loss of sleep. Maybe you feel that your workload is getting truly unbearable. Or perhaps your family is expecting you to be everywhere at once. If this is the case, you might need to sit down and explain that your well-being is suffering.
Troubleshooting how to manage your workload with your supervisor, or with your partner or children, may help. These conversations may drive solutions to increase your zzzs. Just like with anything else, if no one knows you’re feeling tired and stressed, they can’t help. Starting the dialogue, even if it feels hard, can be a good first step. You could even bring this article to use as a starting point for your conversation!
Overall, sleep is really key to success, but most people don’t get enough of it. What practices will you put in place to increase your sleep quality and quantity? What tips can you share that might help others? Comment below to share your strategies for making your shut eye more satisfying!
Post originally published June 18, 2018.