How Sleep Affects Your Productivity

This has been the one topic that plagued my mind all last week, so it seemed fitting to write up a little tip on it. Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to re-experience “winter break” for the first time since college, now that my oldest son is in school. We let a lot of the usual routine go – we lounged around, went to bed late, and had no firm commitments on the calendar other than spending time with family.

The late nights carried over into last week (I’ll call it ‘holiday lag’), and let me tell you – it KILLED me when I had to get up every morning at 6:45 AM to get the kids up and over to school, then put in a full day of work. My body was so conditioned to lazy, and getting back into the normal routine sent a shock through my system.

This week, I plan to give more priority to sleep, and I have my system in place to execute, but how do I know what boundaries to set for myself? 

Last year, I conducted an exercise in an effort to put in place better sleeping habits. Here were the steps:

•   Step 1: Envision what an “effective” day would look like for you with regard to your energy. (For me, this was the feeling of not needing a cup of coffee to carry me through the day.)

•   Step 2: Find a way to track your sleeping habits. (I used a Fitbit for this purpose — and I use it more for sleep than steps these days!)

•   Step 3: Track your sleeping patterns for 7 days. Document how many hours of sleep you get, and how you feel throughout  each day.

•   Step 4: After the week is over, review your results and look for patterns. (I found out that I struggle to keep myself asleep for 8 hours, and while I seem to get through the day pretty well with only 6 hours of sleep, 7 is ideal. Anything less than 6 requires coffee.)

Knowing this about myself, I will be enforce “lights out” at midnight and that should give me the 6-7 hours I need for my day.

I encourage you to test this out this week! And know that some people work surprisingly well operating off 5 hours, while others need 9 for the same result. But sleep is one of the fundamental things we all need to keep our productivity high, so if you want to take more steps toward enjoying your life, you need to know what your body needs first.

Good luck!

The Cheerful Mind