How much sleep do you really need to work productively
Every one of us, on average, will be sleeping for 24 years in our lifetime. Still, there are many unanswered questions about sleep and how much we need of it. With this post, Leo Widrich sets out to uncover what the most important research has taught us about sleep. And of course, how you can use this knowledge to create an unbeatable daily routine.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: How many hours of sleep do you need?
SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: How to Reduce Sleep Quota and Increase Sleep Quality? - SadhguruContent:
Why Sleeping Is the Most Productive Thing You’ll Do All Day and How to Do It Better
What if you could take a pill that improved your productivity at work? And what if the pill were free? Oh, and it made you feel really good? And improved your overall health? Mounting evidence suggests that a good night's sleep seriously boosts productivity.
One study of 4, U. Yet, paradoxically, what is the main driver of poor sleep? So many of us are not getting enough sleep because we're working too much. And we're not working efficiently because we're not getting enough sleep. Sound like a bad pattern? It is, according to Matthew Carter, PhD, a sleep specialist at Williams College, who we had a chance to speak with about sleep and productivity.
Ironically, when they are sleep deprived, they enjoy the day less and are so unfocused that they are much slower in getting things done. And Dr. Carter isn't alone in sounding the alarm about poor sleep. Ariana Huffington has focused her attention on the topic, as well, delivering a TED Talk and penning a best-selling book on sleep and productivity. Here, we'll dig into the research to find out how much sleep we need, why we're not getting it, and what we can do to improve our sleep—and, in turn, our productivity.
Looking back at the 20th century, it's remarkable the degree to which scientific research impacted our behavior. Studies found that tobacco was bad, so we largely stopped smoking. Research showed the benefits of exercise, so we signed up for gym memberships in droves. A recent study of 1, adults tracked productivity and sleep quantity and quality. The conclusion was clear: "Sleep duration both short and long , insomnia, sleepiness, and snoring were all associated with decreased work productivity.
These results weren't surprising. Researchers have known for years that poor sleep dramatically reduces performance for activities ranging from athletics to academia.
A meta-analysis of 24 studies found "significant impairments" in problem-solving and memory capacity among poor sleepers. Another study of interior design students found that "[…] Students who maintained short sleep durations, highly variable night-to-night sleep durations, or had fragmented sleep […] demonstrated pre- to poststudy declines on the laboratory measure of creativity. No matter what type of work you do, impairing your creativity, problem-solving, and memory probably won't help your performance.
Yet many of us continue to lose sleep because we're so busy. Carter explains:. One of the biggest reasons that people don't get enough sleep is because they feel they have too much to do or because they are stressed about what they need to work on. So we're not getting enough work done because we're sleep-deprived and we're not sleeping because we're not getting enough work done.
And how widespread is this problem? A Harvard study of 7, adults found a Another survey by the National Sleep Foundation pegged the percentage of adults who lacked adequate sleep at 45 percent.
Poor sleep is causing percent of the population to lose more than two work weeks worth of productivity every year. If you saw a bunch of people routinely smoking, you would think they have an unhealthy smoking habit. If you saw a bunch of people routinely eating junk food, you would think they have an unhealthy diet.
But if you see a bunch of people tired, you think they must be working hard or having an important, demanding job. Still, many of us struggle to get our full eight hours. Ask a dozen people how much sleep is enough, and you'll get a dozen answers. Some people believe in a solid eight hours, while others say they're fine with five or six. Luckily, there's a simple, free test you can take right now to determine if you're getting enough sleep: Do you feel sleepy?
If so, you probably need more sleep. End of test. Research also shows that quality of sleep matters as much or more than quantity. One study of college students found that "average sleep quality was better related to sleepiness than sleep quantity. Sleep quality is determined by many factors and can be much harder to assess than total hours slept.
So how can you determine the quality of your sleep? The past few years have seen a surge in technologies—including wearables like Fitbit and smartwatches, as well as sleep-specific monitors like Nokia Sleep—that offer sleep-tracking. These are loads easier and cheaper than a full inpatient sleep study and can give you an overview of your overall sleep duration and cycles between different phases of sleep. The most important and deepest phase of sleep is REM. Without entering it several times per night, you're unlikely to wake feeling rested.
Wearables like Fitbit can't measure sleep cycles like REM directly—that requires an expensive polysomnography machine—but they can infer it relatively accurately from a combination of heart rate and movement tracking. For an activity that involves literally doing nothing, sleep can be surprisingly challenging. As a lifelong insomniac, I'm something of an expert on not sleeping.
Whether you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you're not alone. The CDC estimates that a third of Americans don't get enough sleep each night. Sleep expert Matthew Carter has three main pieces of advice to help improve the quality and quantity of your sleep:.
Blue light, in particular, can disrupt circadian rhythms and regulation of melatonin a sleep hormone. Software like f. Nevermind the health benefits, skipping a sweet midnight snack or nightcap can actually improve your daytime productivity.
Carter explains, "Many people expect sleep to just happen—in reality you have to get yourself ready for it. Like a Pavlovian dog salivating at the sound of a bell, creating a routine at night will signal to your body that it's time to wind down.
For a double-dose of benefit, you can make this routine involve other sleep-promoting behaviors:. You've probably heard some version of this advice before, and it's easy to brush off.
But next time you're answering work emails at 11 p. Of course, even if you follow all of this advice perfectly, you might still have trouble getting enough sleep. Wear earplugs. Sleep in separate rooms if it's really bad. Or consider asking your partner to sign up for a sleep study; serious snoring can point to sleep apnea, a condition that could be compromising the quality of their sleep. If you work a graveyard shift, you can still adopt all the above practices—just do them during the day instead of at night.
The toughest one will be keeping the light out, so get blackout light-blockers for your windows. This is a common and maddening problem. Often the problem stems from irregular sleep patterns e. Try to create a regular, nap-free sleep schedule for at least a week and see if the problem persists. Other than obvious solutions like not drinking caffeine within 10 hours of bedtime , you might want to consider a relaxation technique like gentle yoga or meditation.
The popular meditation app Headspace recently launched a whole sleep-focused meditation package that can help quiet your busy mind. There's no gray area here: Good sleep improves productivity. You can read study after study that shows the same thing, or you can trust your own common intuition. Do you do your best work on three hours of sleep?
And it's not just that a good night's sleep will improve your work for a single day. Improving your productivity can actually improve your sleep, which improves your productivity—and so on, in a virtuous cycle. If a person gets more sleep, then they are more focused and better at performing tasks. Therefore, they get more done and can feel better about their work. This, in turn, can help sleep because people feel like they have "earned it.
Will our culture finally embrace sleep and its productivity-boosting potential? There are some positive signs. Seattle public schools recently pushed high school start time back a full hour to unambiguously positive results : better attendance and better grades. Until we move toward valuing sleep as a cultural norm, you can at the very least value it for yourself—and your productivity.
Sam Kemmis is a writer and the founder of MyTravelNerd, a travel deals thing. He currently lives in a Mitsubishi Delica van. Comments powered by Disqus.
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The Science of Sleep and Productivity. No such pill exists, but science suggests an alternative does: sleep. Sleep and Productivity: The Research Looking back at the 20th century, it's remarkable the degree to which scientific research impacted our behavior.
But when it comes to sleep, we seem to have missed the memo. Load Comments
The Science of Sleep and Productivity
What if you could take a pill that improved your productivity at work? And what if the pill were free? Oh, and it made you feel really good? And improved your overall health?
But sometimes, well, life interferes. It sends more energizing oxygen throughout your body so you feel as much as 65 percent less fatigued. Water, that is. And if you find yourself running to the bathroom more often, the extra activity can only help!
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need To Work Productively?
If this is your first time registering, please check your inbox for more information about the benefits of your Forbes account and what you can do next! How many hours do I need to sleep each night? I'm trying to figure out my most productive sleep schedule. Some people can exist on just a few winks each night. I am not one of those people. I like my sleep, and if I routinely miss a good night's sleep, I can definitely feel it. I don't know if what works for me works for everyone, so I went straight to the experts. Natalie D.
Productivity and sleep
I remember the first day of my 10th grade English class better than any other day of my time in grade school. And, of course, The Grateful Dead was playing softly in the background. The teacher, Mr. On days we were being particularly rowdy while entering the classroom, we lost this privelege.
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