Sleep and productivity are seemingly interdependent. We’ve all heard it is important to get a good night’s sleep; although most of don’t hold this value sacred. We make allowances for disruptions in our sleep, and become frustrated when we are unable to function effectively at work, in relationships or to get sleep the next night.
Studies have looked at lack of sleep and its connection to anxiety, and found that sleep problems may not be a product of anxiety but a reason it continues to occur (Psychology Today May/June 2020). Additional outcomes associated with poor sleep can include a lessening of pain tolerance by as much as 15 percent and a reduction in your ability to manage emotions effectively.
Knowing what is a healthy amount and what could be a problem is key. Typical estimates include:
Infants: 14- 17 hours
Elementary School Aged Children: 11-15 hours
Teenagers: 8-11 hours
Adults 18-64: 7-9 hours
So, what can you do to make this happen? There are many schools of thoughts from supplements to behavior interventions. Let’s break down a few. Supplements that can be helpful include:
A hormone found naturally in your body, can be taken to create a feeling of drowsiness and help signal your body that it is time to go to bed. It will not change how long or how restful the sleep may be, but it can help to get your bodies rhythm back on track.
Found naturally in our bodies, helps to regulate the neurotransmitters that encourage sleep and there is some evidence that it can improve the quality of our sleep. Food is the most common way to consume magnesium, although most of us eat a magnesium deficient diet. Supplements of magnesium can help to improve how our bodies function with sleep.
Commonly found in teas is another neurotransmitter modulator that help encourage sleep and can be taken in concentrated form via supplement.
What you do is important. Sleep and productivity can be impacted by a few simple behaviors including:
Even on weekends. Our bodies rely on regularity and significant changes to this can lead to some restless nights and subsequent difficulties getting started the next day.
Give yourself time to wind down by taking care of typical personal care tasks including face washing, teeth brushing, etc.
Caffeine is present in a variety of food & drink and can have a delayed effect felt hours after consumption. Click here for some foods you may not have considered. Consider a cut off period in your day to reduce any potential impact on your ability to fall asleep.
Keeping the temperature a bit cooler will help promote sleep. Make sure your mattress and your pillow are comfortable. Remove any sounds or ambient lights that may be interrupting you (power buttons, phone display, etc). Putting a piece of dark tape over a power button light can have a big impact. Consider putting your cell phone on “do not disturb” mode for the hours when you are typically sleeping so the notification light will not bother you. Keep electronics out of your bedroom. If you must watch tv or check your phone before bedtime, do it in another room. Save your bedroom for sleep.
Exercise increases body temperature and when combined with a reduction in room temperature can help with the signal your body needs to fall asleep. Even just 10 minutes of walking during the day can improve your sleep quality.
Lastly, be compassionate with yourself. Nothing amplifies a problem more than focusing on it and the impact it might have. If you are stuck with running thoughts, consider trying to simply close your eyes and imagine a calming place and guide your thoughts through this experience. This type of guided dreaming can help you focus on pleasant things and not on the elusive sleep you are craving. Before you know it, you will be on your way to a great night’s sleep.