There are few of us who are unfamiliar with the heavy feeling of a bad night’s sleep. The achiness behind the eyes. The tendency towards procrastination. And the yearning for sweet, or carb-heavy food.
We all have to deal with that from time to time when events keep us out late, young families prevent us from sleeping, or when there’s something really good on the telly! But what about the everyday?
With large numbers of people working from home following the pandemic, and more businesses switching on to the benefits of a remote workforce, it’s becoming increasingly hard for many of us to switch off at the end of the day. Separating work from home life is often tough, but when you don’t have a commute to wind down, those daily stresses have a tendency to linger. This impacts sleep. And then lack of sleep impacts work, ensuring the cycle continues. So, how healthy are your regular sleep habits? Is your sleep hygiene as good as it should be? And are these things impacting the way that you work?
How does sleep impact the way you work?
Sleep impacts almost everything we do. As our natural refresh, it affects the way that our body and brain perform, from our mental processes to our immune system. So, at work, a lack of sleep can mean a significant reduction in performance. You may work more slowly, make more mistakes, and struggle with decisions. It can mean that information is processed inaccurately and it can heighten your emotions, meaning that otherwise minor irritations or stresses can be exaggerated out of all proportion. A recent American study of more than 4,000 workers noted “significantly worse productivity, performance, and safety outcomes” among those who slept less, estimating a $1,967 loss in productivity per worker due to poor sleep.
In the short term, these are issues enough. But if sleep deprivation continues for a prolonged period, it can impact your mental health. Amplifying anxiety, triggering low self-esteem and initiating more serious mental health concerns. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s always a good idea to seek medical help.
How can you improve your sleeping habits?
Whether work is keeping you awake, or you’ve got a classic case of ‘revenge bedtime procrastination.’ improving your sleep hygiene can significantly improve the amount and quality of sleep you have each night. And it’s not a difficult thing to implement.
Good sleep hygiene is all about creating positive habits that produce a restful night. This can include:
- Creating a relaxing routine that you stick to every night, preparing your brain for sleep.
- Making your bedroom as comfy and restful as possible. Keep it clutter-free, make sure your bed and mattress are comfortable, choose breathable bed linen.
- Keep an eye on room temperature. Most people sleep best at between 16°C and 19°C.
- Choose soothing lighting.
- Avoid caffeine for at least 6 hours before you plan to sleep and reduce your alcohol intake.
- And keep screentime to a minimum in the hour before bed.
Do good sleeping habits lead to a better work-life balance?
Yes. Changing your sleeping habits can take time, but the more and better quality of sleep you have, the more you can get done. And the more you can get done during your official working hours, the less often you have to work late to stay on top. This feeds on to reduce anxiety, irritability, and stress, which makes the time you do have at home more enjoyable.
The human body and brain simply can’t function fully without sleep. For optimum wellbeing, the Sleep Foundation recommends that adults sleep for between seven and nine hours every night. If something is preventing you from doing that, it may be time to take action.