THESE DAYS, we all have a to-do list that's a mile long. Whether you're a high-powered executive making all the big deals or a stay-at-home mom with loads of household responsibilities and a tight schedule of after school activities, it can feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done.
You may even be tempted to stay up later or get up earlier just to squeeze a few more hours of working time into your day.
But that would be a mistake.
Productivity Killer: Lack of Sleep
It turns out that sleep is crucial for your health and your overall productivity. Though it feels counterintuitive, taking the time to get more sleep can actually help you to function better during your waking hours, even though you technically have less time to get your chores done.
When you burn the candle at both ends and continually stay up late to get more done, you put your body under tremendous stress. The effects of sleep deprivation build up over time and can cause big health consequences, including:
- Compromised immune system
- Higher risk for obesity and chronic diseases, like diabetes
- Mood disorders, such as depression
- Increased risk of accidents
- Decreased cognitive functioning, including memory loss and concentration
When you take a closer look at that list, you notice two main ways that your ability to function at a high level is at risk. First, you may have to take time off entirely if you succumb to illnesses related to your decreased immune system functioning. Being bedridden for a week is the absolute worst thing that could happen to your personal productivity levels.
However, the more insidious effects of a lack of sleep as it relates to your productivity are decreased cognitive skills. When you have trouble concentrating or remembering what you should be doing with your time, you waste valuable minutes each day as you go about your work. Though each "senior moment" may seem insignificant on its own, they add up to rob you of hours of work and make everything take longer than it normally would.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
To avoid making costly errors due to sleep deprivation, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. You may personally need slightly more or less, but getting fewer than seven hours of sleep each night is a recipe for disaster in the long run.
Aiming to get at least seven hours of sleep comes with several benefits that help you get more out of your waking hours, including:
- Preventing burnout at work
- Recovering from distractions more quickly
- Improved memory functioning
- Reducing your errors at work
All of these benefits will make you feel faster and sharper on the job. When you can squeeze more out of your waking hours, you'll actually have more time to allow for sleeping. It's a paradox that builds on itself when you put it in action: Get more sleep at night so you can accomplish more in less time during the day, thereby leaving you more time to get your needed rest at night.
It may be hard to believe, but the research doesn't lie! Give sleep a chance to boost your productivity, starting tonight.