Increasing Productivity: Adequate Sleep

One of your greatest productivity resources is adequate sleep—especially when you find yourself facing an extreme work week. But knowing you need a good night’s sleep and actually getting one can be two different things. What if you just can’t get enough sleep, no matter what you do?

If the problem persists long term, I recommend you have yourself tested at a sleep center in order to determine whether you have an organic problem interfering with your sleep habits. However, you can often handle short-term sleep issues “in house,” so to speak, by changing certain aspects of your behavior. In this tip, I’ll outline a few simple practices that can help you get the sleep you need.

First off, never watch TV, work, or even read while you’re in bed. Use your bed for sleeping only. Otherwise, your subconscious might become confused about what your bed’s for, which can delay your dropping off and may cause you to wake up regularly during the night, shattering your sleep patterns.

Next, watch what you drink. We all know caffeinated beverages like soda, coffee, and some teas can keep us awake, but it can be easy to forget about this during the hustle and bustle of the average day—especially when you depend on a bracing cup of joe to keep you alert. Drastically cut back on your caffeinated beverage consumption after about 2:00 P.M. on any work day, and even earlier if that doesn’t seem to work; and never drink such beverages within about three hours of bedtime.

Sometimes, nothing you do works; your mind may stay so active you just can’t sleep. If you’ve otherwise done everything right, try to soothe yourself enough to make it easier to drop off. A nice cup of herbal tea (such as Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime) can help, as can supplements like valerian or, if necessary, a sleeping pill. Just about any dairy product except ice cream can also help you sleep. Other sleep-friendly foods include turkey and tuna. But don’t eat too much before bedtime, and avoid any starchy or sugary foods that might provide a sleep-defeating energy boost.

Do your best to get as much sleep as you can within the constraints of your extreme work week, and don’t sacrifice sleep so you can get more done elsewhere—or you’ll end up getting less done. If you have to work crazy hours, then you have to take care of yourself if you expect to maintain any reasonable level of workplace productivity.