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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

15 Minutes Less of Sleep Can Break Your Day

15 Minutes Less of Sleep Can Break Your Day

A highly busy person is seen as someone who works tirelessly, working both day and night for their goals. Some even strive for this, and stay up late working all hours, surviving on sheer determination, and a significant amount of coffee. This kind of behavior is destructive. Working without sleep, or working when you haven’t slept enough can have a great impact on your ability to focus, function, and your health overall.

In 1999, a plane, American Airlines 1420 crashed on the runway of Little Rock Airport, Arkansas.[1] There was nothing out of the ordinary about the flight, such cross country flights are routine, the kind every pilot in the world makes hundreds of times in their career. The plane was working perfectly. Yet the crashed killed 11 people, including the captain, and wounded over one hundred others. After some investigation, it was concluded that the pilots were too fatigued, and didn’t pay full attention the the situation around them, and failed to activate the spoiler system, a device in the plane to aid in landing.

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    Of course, not all of us are airline pilots, but think about it, how many times have you heard about fatal car accidents that were caused by a tired driver, or a lack of attention. It is extremely common. It has been estimated that 100,000 car accidents per year occur because the driver was fatigued.[2]

    Why do we sleep less now?

    As human beings, we have evolved to function around the day and night cycle. For centuries, low light conditions signalled to us that it was time to sleep. However, since the invention of electronic lighting, we have created environments where we can remain constantly in bright light conditions, whether it is in the middle of the night or the middle of the day. What’s worse, it has been discovered that the light emitting from an LED screen, the kind on our phones, tablets, computers, or TV actually slows down or even stops the melatonin , a hormone in the brain which enables us to sleep.[3] As a result, either through our own behaviour or our devices, we are getting less sleep than we need in order to function.

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      There have been countless studies into the effects of sleep deprivation, and almost all of them show that it is extremely damaging. Symptoms can range from difficulty focusing, to greater risks of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. By not sleeping as much as we need, we could be putting ourselves in considerable risk.[4]

      The dangers aren’t just health related. Being even slightly sleep deprived can have a huge and disastrous impact on your productivity. It has been shown that losing 90 minutes of sleep can reduce your alertness by as much as one-third. If you’re working in a high pressure and demanding environment, that can have a massive impact on your productivity.[5] Your mental state after four hours of sleep is similar to that of legal drunkenness.[6]

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        However, those who sleep the recommended eight hours per day find they remain focused throughout the day, with few, if any impairments to their mental functioning.

        A small adjustment can turn things around

        Make a small adjustment in your sleeping habit, as small as 15 or 30 minutes, can make a great difference on your energy level the following day.

        Try to gradually add 15 minutes of sleep to your nightly schedule every day. Continue with this until you feel fully rested the next morning. By then you’ll find out exactly how much sleep you need to feel energetic. When you realize the time you need to sleep to gain sufficient energy, stick to that time.

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        There are a number of things you can do to improve your sleeping. Check out this article if you want to sleep better: 15 Ways to Sleep Better, and Wake up Refreshed

        You might find yourself surprised about how much of an impact a tiny adjustment to your sleep pattern can have. Retaining a healthy sleeping pattern will help keep you alert, highly functioning, and productive throughout the day.

        Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

        Reference

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        Sam Aloysius

        Self proclaimed chai expert

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        Last Updated on December 2, 2018

        How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

        How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

        Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

        The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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        The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

        Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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        Review Your Past Flow

        Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

        Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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        Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

        Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

        Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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        Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

        Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

        We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

        Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

          Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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