Creating a Productive Sleep Cycle

Are you so overwhelmed by everything you have to do, you do not have enough time to sleep? Is it time to reverse your sleep cycle?

The more time we spend cramming in extra work at night, the less productive we are on the  job the following day. “The amount of time people spent using their smart phone after 9 PM had a detrimental effect on sleep that night, as well as it carried over and impacted how fatigued they were the following morning,” said Russell Johnson, Assistant Professor of Management at MSU.

How do we reverse our sleep cycle?   We have to make sleep a priority.   We have to place the same importance on our health and wellbeing as we place on all of the other tasks competing for our limited time.

Woman sleeping in bed. Woman sleeping isolated on white background.

An unproductive sleep cycle
We often get ourselves into an unproductive sleep cycle of working late because we haven’t completed everything we set out to do during the day. We get to bed late and probably don’t sleep well because thoughts of work are competing with a good sleep. One late night leads to an unproductive day, which leads to another late night.

Reversing the sleep cycle
One good night’s sleep will lead to a productive day and another good nights sleep.

1.  Pick five things to do today
Put only five things on your daily plan. If you set out to complete five things and you do complete them, you will likely feel like you have had a productive day. If you set out to complete ten things and finish only five, you will likely feel frustrated and/or stay up late to complete them.

2. Use your most productive hours wisely
The majority of us are most productive in the morning. Take advantage of that time of day and do your hardest task first. Use the mornings for focused work time and afternoons for meeting, email and other tasks that take less concentration.

3. Go to bed even if the work is not done
Even if you have planned to do five tasks today and you haven’t completed them. Go to bed. The only way to stay in a productive sleep cycle is to get enough sleep for a productive day tomorrow. I am not suggesting you miss an important deadline but try to keep in mind missing sleep to get everything done means you will likely accomplish less tomorrow and overall.

4. Get seven to nine hours of sleep
Everyone needs a different amount of sleep. Choose your “sleep number” and try to achieve it each night.

5. Avoid coffee after 1pm
When your energy takes a dip in the afternoon, don’t have a coffee. While coffee will make you feel alert, it will also put you on edge and affect the quality of your sleep. Have a walk around, help yourself to a decaffeinated beverage and then tackle tasks requiring less concentration.

6. Create a pre-sleep routine
Spend the last thirty minutes of your day doing something you enjoy. Do something to rest your mind and help you go to sleep more easily. Sleep is induced when melatonin levels rise at night. Bright lights at night interfere with the melatonin increase and consequently our ability to fall asleep. So, avoid all blue light and turn down the lights in the room.

There are so many health and productivity benefits to a good nights sleep. People with busy careers often work until they drop and then take the time to recover.   The more productive way to work is to utilize recovery periods to make work periods more productive. Today is the day to make sleep a priority and create a productive sleep cycle.


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