Could your sleep habits be affecting your performance at work? A good night’s sleep may seem like a lower priority than catching up on emails (or binge-watching the latest Netflix show), but it’s essential for focus and critical thinking. Sleep deprivation can affect your decision-making skills, hand-eye coordination and even your memory. And when you’re not at your best physically and mentally, you can’t bring your ‘A’ game to your job.
Follow these tips to start improving your sleep habits:
Don’t Expect to Catch Up on Weekends
Yes, you may be able to recharge when the weekend comes by getting a few more hours of sleep. But while sleeping in may help with some of the effects of sleep deprivation like stress and tiredness, research indicates it doesn’t help your ability to focus and retain information — skills essential for peak work performance.
Taking a nap doesn’t mean you’re lazy. Naps are a great way to reenergize and make up for that lost hour. The ideal time to nap is between 1–3pm, for no more than 30 minutes. Opt for a nap over sleeping in late, so your natural sleep cycle isn’t disturbed.
Skip the Alarm
Make an effort to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, without an alarm — even on the weekends. If you’re getting enough sleep, you should wake up naturally. If you aren’t able to wake up without an alarm, it’s time to set an earlier bedtime.
Keep your Melatonin Levels Balanced
Melatonin is a hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Increase your light exposure during the day by spending time outside and letting light into your home and workspace. In the evening, limit your reading on backlit devices and try turning off computers, TVs and mobile devices at least an hour before bed.
Choose the Right Foods
Try to limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol, foods that may be hard to digest, or anything that may cause a full bladder at night. Choose healthy food options throughout the day, especially more almonds, bananas, hummus, cherries and nut butters — all containing vitamins like magnesium, potassium, B6 and amino acids that promote and regulate good sleep patterns.