Remember earlier this week when we spoke about ways to be productively lazy? I want to focus on one part of that post in particular: sleep.
Somewhere down the line, it became an accepted part of our culture to eschew sleep in favor of working. It became such a social currency for us that if we weren’t running ourselves ragged, we were seen as someone who wasn’t passionate about our work, or simply someone who wasn’t willing to “go the extra mile”, to put the team first. Sleep went from a biological necessity to a perceived weakness almost overnight (slight pun intended).
Luckily for us, the tide has turned and things are beginning to shift the other way. Prominent industry leaders and entrepreneurs are working to reestablish sleep as a vital part of everyday life, not something that can be thrown out the window like a broken alarm clock.
In light of that, and the fact that the holiday season affords us time away from work, I figured I’d help propagate the idea that sleep is something to be embraced, and give you some tips to improve your sleeping habits.
FIRST THING’S FIRST: SET YOUR SCHEDULE
There is an idea that the only way to success is to burn the midnight oil. Our phones are on at all hours of the night as we’re answering emails and preparing for the next day’s meetings. We are, for lack of a better term, putting ourselves on call. Don’t do this.
A practice that works really well is the whole “leave work at work” thing. Do everything that is needed of you in a given day, but once you leave work, make it so that you may as well not exist to the people you work with. Unless y’all are friends. Then you can hang out and stuff.
When you’re in the office, they can badger you all they want, but once you walk out that front door, you’re not checking emails, you’re not answering calls, and you’re sure as hell not trading in U-time for them time.
Obviously this is completely dependent on there not being an emergency, or a massive project due or something like that, but assuming there’s not, whatever they want from you can wait until tomorrow morning.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT
People make mistakes when they are tired, and sometimes those mistakes are incredibly costly.
We have this idea that more is better. That if we woke up earlier and spent that extra hour in the gym, we would meet our physical goals. Or that if we worked an hour later, and came into the office an hour earlier, we would get more done, our boss would notice, and we would progress in our careers.
The crazy thing is, the basic idea at play here is true: more is better, we just have to be better at applying that idea to sleep.
The average worker loses 11 days of productivity every year? Do you know why? Sleep deprivation
We work so hard, and so long that our bodies don’t have the time to properly recharge and recover, making us more prone to illness and mistakes. We may think that we’re dong ourselves a favor by working longer, but not only is the quality of our work suffering, but so are our physical bodies.
HOW DO I GET MORE SLEEP?
This is completely up to you but let’s start with getting enough sleep to complete all the sleep cycles. I don’t know any of the sleep cycles, except for REM (thanks 90’s alternative rock), so I’m assuming many of you don’t either. So what do you do? Use this nifty little website. Input the time you have to wake up and this site will give you a few options of the best times to go to sleep based on the nature of sleep cycles.
If you’re more habitual, give yourself a bed time and stick as close to it as possible. That doesn’t mean you have to forgo all the fun that happens after bed time – contrary to what my parents told me when I was growing up, good things do happen after midnight – it just means that sticking as closely to it as possible will help your body acclimate and rest up more efficiently.
Last but not least, don’t use a screen while in bed, but if you have to (TV before bed is damn-near a God-given right at this point), use f.lux. This app will adjust the brightness of your screen based on the time of day so that when you’re falling asleep to episodes of The Office, you’re not bathing in the sterile glow of a computer screen.
Go ahead and give it a shot. Stop worrying about doing more, and sleep. Your body, and you, will be happy you did.
Until next time – sweet dreams.