The quality of your sleep plays an essential role in your performance throughout the day. It can determine how well you can deal with pressure, switch gears when you have to, or tap into your creativity. Whether it’s physical or mental performance, getting a good night's sleep is the only means of recovery that you can’t substitute for a supplement or any other type of activity. In order to optimize your sleep cycle, we have gathered 9 essential tips to help improve your routine and enhance your performance at work.
Table of contents:
1. Consistently stick to a routine
2. Limit the late-night cardio
3. Reduce caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine intake
4. Eat light in the evening
5. Make time to unwind and relax
6. Check your schedule for the next day the night before
7. Put your phone away
8. Avoid staying in bed for too long
9. Get some daylight exposure
While many believe that missing out on sleep during the week can be caught up on weekends, this is a common misconception.
In his book ‘Why we sleep’, Professor Matthew Walker, Director of UC Berkeley Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, reveals that lack of sleep (defined as six hours or fewer) can have serious consequences. According to his findings, sleep deficiency is associated with problems in concentration, memory and the immune system, and may even shorten life span.
As tempting as it sounds, regularly sleeping in on weekends and thus changing your sleep cycle, makes it harder to go to bed on time on Sunday night and wake up rested on Monday morning.
Going to bed late one night and early the next day throws your circadian rhythm off balance. As a result, you become less focused, experience more fatigue-related moods, and lack of alertness. Performance problems usually arrive shortly after.
In general, exercise improves the quality of your sleep. Some people like exercising and going for a run late at night. However, this might impair your sleep and make you feel run-down in the morning, which in turn undermines your performance during the next day.
Enjoying a high-intensity training session close to bedtime can make it harder for your brain to wind down. Your heart rate is up, making you more alert, which is the opposite of what you want to achieve when going to bed. Try to finish your exercise routine at least 90 minutes before going to bed.
It’s no secret that caffeine and nicotine make us feel alert and energized, which is why they play an integral role in the daily lives of most. Also, having a glass of wine in the late hours helps us to relax, or so we think...
Cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine 4 hours before bed can improve your sleep quality and quantity. Thus, getting a better and longer night’s sleep will prepare you for bringing your best productive self the next day. We could all use more sleep — or at least better quality sleep.
We love a good meal for dinner that makes us feel full and satisfied. However, research has shown a preference for light snacks to heavy meals. The latter can cause indigestion which can interfere with your sleep.
Eating the right foods can also play a role in the quality of your sleep. Tryptophan (or L-tryptophan) is an amino acid found in animal products like turkey, chicken, eggs, and fish, as well as in dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Consuming foods that are rich in tryptophan has proven to increase sleep duration.
On the contrary, foods that are rich in carbohydrates, sugar, and fat impair your sleep. So, leave the cookies for the morning and focus on a balanced, light protein-rich meal for dinner.
Create a relaxing atmosphere and routine before bed. Meditation, reading, listening to music, or doing light stretching are some examples of how to prepare your body and mind for a good night's rest.
Research has shown that meditation strengthens the prefrontal cortex, which is the most important part of the brain for productivity. This part of the brain makes decisions, focuses, judges, plans, and is involved in self-discipline.
We all have a busy schedule. Looking at our to-do list for the next day is best to do after work on the day before. Why is that?
Constantly keeping an eye on your to-do list can make you more stressed and less productive for the remainder of the day. Instead of focusing on the tasks you have to do now, you will already be thinking about the things to do tomorrow.
A better approach is to check your schedule for the next day later in the afternoon so that you can avoid stress and be ready to kick it the next morning without wasting any time.
A good way to track your tasks is by using a productivity or planning tool, such as Rodeo.
Let’s be honest - our mobile devices have become an extension of our arms. The usual bedtime routine for many of us includes getting into our pajamas, hopping into bed, and then… reaching for our cell phones. However, they do pose a threat to our health and sleep cycle.
To begin with, the blue light emitted by our phones restricts the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle (or in other words - circadian rhythm). This makes you more alert, making it harder to fall asleep and wake up the next day. It’s going to be more difficult for you to relax and go to sleep now that you’re all fired up. And who wants to be tired and sluggish the next day?
A best practice is to leave your phone alone at least 30 minutes before bed. Referring to the previous point - this gives you enough time to unwind and get in the mood for a good night’s sleep.
If you have trouble falling asleep, this can make you more anxious. If you can’t transition into light slumber after about 25 to 30 minutes of lying in bed, get up and do a relaxing activity until you start feeling sleepy.
The circadian rhythm we talked about earlier, is the body’s natural time-keeping clock. It influences your brain, body, and hormones. It helps you stay awake and tells you when it’s time to sleep, which in turn increases your daytime energy while improving your nighttime sleep quality and duration.
So getting as little as 30 minutes of sun exposure early during the day can help you be more focused at work while aiding your sleeping pattern at night.
If you’re interested in improving your well-being as well as reaching peak performance and concentration during working hours, it’s recommended to make sleep a top priority by incorporating some of the tips above.
Some might seem tedious or common sense, but you probably must admit that some are quite a challenge to actually stick to. Luckily, it only takes a few days of perseverance to turn new routines into a habit. So just get started!
And if you really want to keep the pace at work, try out a project management tool that can take care of a lot of the boring administrative tasks for you. Start a free trial or plan a free demo with one of our experts now to find out more.