Sleep Smart: Sleeping your way to a productive day
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How to improve productivity with better sleep
In a time where normalcy and routine have been replaced with sheer survival mode, people are becoming increasingly mindful of maintaining the same levels of productivity in their new ways of working and living. With many now working from home, while also taking care of young children or elderly family members, it can sometimes be difficult to stay focused and perform at one hundred percent. While people are striving for productivity, it is important to be aware of the role that health – specifically sleep health – plays.
Productivity is often associated with doing more, and putting the job at the forefront. Consequently, this leads to less time dedicated to sleep. Prioritizing work over sleep is frequently praised and viewed as a badge of honor. However, in reality, when sleep is deprioritized, productivity and performance can suffer.
The association between sleep and productivity comes as no surprise, as many people are feeling the effects of poor sleep. In fact, according to Philips annual global sleep survey, 61% of adults around the world believe that their memory is worse when they have not slept well, while 75% admit they are less productive after a poor night’s sleep. This insight makes sense, given the important role sleep – and, more specifically, slow wave sleep – has been proven to play in the optimization of memory consolidation and improved performance.
In order to address sleep issues and improve performance, it is important to understand the value of sleep as well as healthy sleep behavior.
Sleep and Wellbeing
Studies have found that poor sleep compromises memory, alertness, decision making and problem solving – all of which play an integral role in achieving optimal productivity . According to Dr. David White, Chief Medical Officer at Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care, “a single night of inadequate sleep duration (generally considered to be less than seven hours) can impact mood, performance and general well-being. Multiple consecutive nights of inadequate sleep have larger effects.”
Research further proves the connection between sleep and overall wellbeing. For example, a study observing more than 4,000 employees at four large American corporations found that participants with insomnia or insufficient sleep experienced the most productivity losses. Deficits included spending three times as much of their day on time management, feeling less motivated and struggling with focus, memory and decision making .
A single night of inadequate sleep duration (generally considered to be less than seven hours) can impact mood, performance and general well-being. Multiple consecutive nights of inadequate sleep have larger effects.
Dr. David White
Chief Medical Officer at Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care
There is no substitute for sleep
Quick fixes, like coffee and energy drinks, are go-to remedies to counteract poor sleep. While caffeine is often a crutch for the sleep-deprived and has proven to improve performance in some cases, Dr. White cautions on some of its negative side effects. Caffeine increases heart rate and blood pressure and acts as a diuretic. Additionally, it is not a sufficient or comparable substitute for sleep as it does not produce the same benefits, including helping to consolidate memory and removing toxic proteins in the brain.
Instead of relying on stimulants, Dr. White suggests the following to improve sleep:
Spend seven hours in bed. It is impossible to get seven hours of sleep when you only have a six hour sleep opportunity.
Practice general sleep hygiene including going to bed and getting up at the same time on a regular basis and avoiding caffeine and alcohol near bedtime.
If you have consistent problems falling or staying asleep, talk to your physician. Your physician can help implement changes in sleep behaviors which can ultimately lead to meaningful improvements in sleep quality.
Slow wave sleep and productivity
Aside from behavioral lifestyle changes, there are other solutions that can help to improve sleep quality. The Philips SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband is clinically proven to improve sleep quality by boosting slow wave sleep, the most restorative stage of sleep. Studies have found that slow wave sleep, also known as deep sleep, is essential for optimizing the restorative value of sleep. During slow wave sleep, the brain decompresses activity from the day and consolidates, manages and optimizes sensory data. Slow wave sleep restores brain function and leads to increased energy and alertness .
As we navigate the new normal and aim to maintain productivity, sleep is crucial and gives the brain the necessary tools to perform at its highest level the next day. By prioritizing sleep, people can not only improve performance, but also overall wellbeing.