Advertising
Advertising

Are Micro-sleeps Ruining Your Productivity?

Are Micro-sleeps Ruining Your Productivity?

The morning after a night of poor sleep can be rough, as I’m sure you know from firsthand research. For years we’ve known that sleep affects us both physically and mentally—lack of sleep erodes our mental abilities in particular. Just one night of sub-optimal sleep at less than 5 hours might hurt us more the next day than almost two days of no sleep at all.[1]

Despite this, chances are that you spent your morning commute bleary-eyed and desperately clutching a cup of your preferred caffeine fix whilst maintaining a silent litany of “I promise to go to bed earlier tonight!”.

The fact of it is, you may just have to hack your sleep in order to hack your productivity. Actually, you just need to sleep (no hacking necessary) to be more productive. Research tells us that the insufficient sleep you’re currently getting increases the frequency of micro-sleeps[2] and it might just be these micro-sleeps that are ruining your efforts to be your best self.

What is a micro-sleep?

Sitting at your desk at work after getting 4 hours of sleep, you might think you’ve got your workload under control, but you feel your attention slip occasionally. You suddenly and involuntarily lose your focus and it’s a struggle to zone back into full awareness. After a few seconds you manage to get yourself together, but it’s not the last time that this will happen to you today.

Science describes micro-sleep as very short periods of sleep[2], but you may be more familiar with them as unintended lapses in attention[2]. Although short, they are an interruption to your flow and, in a sleep-deprived state, these interruptions might take you longer to recover from.

Advertising

So why do they occur?

Sleep is a biological necessity, so while we’re awake, our need for sleep builds throughout the day until we fall into bed in the evening. It’s normal to experience crossovers between wakefulness and sleep to a certain extent, but a lack of sleep will expand our sleep debt. A heavy debt will increase the frequency of these crossovers and subsequently, you might find yourself lapsing into micro-sleeps more often[2-3], meaning that you will struggle to concentrate more often and may feel sleepy or tired[4].

If you already struggle with these feelings at work, it’s time to accept that they’re a call for help and not to be ignored until you eventually retire.

Your brain on insufficient sleep

Research thus far has shown that your mood suffers the greatest hit from a lack of sleep[1]. The brain becomes more reactive[5] and emotions can go haywire, causing unstable moods.

One interesting study also showed that we’re more likely to react to negative stimuli[2] when suffering from a lack of zzz’s. Being a bit of a ticking bomb can’t be good in a social setting, especially if you’ve been holding a grudge against your coworker or have suppressed feelings towards your boss.

Advertising

Insufficient sleep can also affect our mental and creative skills, with lateral and flexible thinking particularly impaired. Furthermore, it has been shown that it takes us longer to complete a task when operating on a lack of sleep[2], especially as our motivation and engagement[2] suffer as well. (Can this explain the cyber loafing problem some have?) In any case, it’s safe to assume that even the tasks that come automatically to us, might be harder to get crossed off our to-do lists.

Even if you push through and complete a task, it’s likely there will be errors[2] you’ll have to spend further time correcting as chronic sleep deprivation decreases speed and accuracy[3]. Let’s face it—the time spent correcting errors could have been better put to use, like on a full night’s sleep.

But I do get enough sleep!

Are you sure? In another effort to prove us all wrong, research reveals that we tend to think we’ve gotten enough sleep even when we haven’t[3]. Furthermore, we tend to greatly overestimate our cognitive performance when chronically sleep-deprived; although we think we’re doing well, our performance might have actually plummeted.[3]

It looks like sleep might be the best first step towards optimising your productivity. Even without delving into polyphasic sleep and other experiments, just getting a good night’s sleep might help you refresh enough for you to make the most of your day at work.

If there’s one thing you’ll take away from this article, it should be this quote by Jim Butcher:

Advertising

Sleep is God. Go worship.

Make that the litany inside your head.

If it’s the middle of your workday, you’re struggling with being productive at this very moment and thinking that this article is absolutely useless, I’ve got a morsel for you too. Here are:

3 scientifically-backed truths to quickly boost your productivity:

1. Get some exercise: Research has shown that exercise increases productivity so that we are both able to do more and do it better.[6] The good news is that you don’t have to go off to slave away at the gym—even a walk around the office or a run up the stairs might help. If you can find the time, go do it now.

2. Be happy: Think positively and feed positive emotions—happiness can increase an employee’s productivity so that he does more while maintaining a level of quality to his work[7]. In this context, happiness entails any positive emotion experienced often.[7]

Advertising

3. Try being mindful:Research has shown that even the short-term practice of mindfulness can improve our ability to remain focused as well as our mood and cognitive processes[8].

References
[1]Pilcher, J., Huffcut, A.I., (1996). Effects of sleep deprivation on performance: a meta analysis. Sleep, 19(4), 318-326.
[2]Lim, J., Dinges, D.F. Sleep deprivation and vigilant attention. Dexpartment of psychology, University of Pennsylvania.
[3]Durmer, J.S., Dinges, D.F. (2005). Neurocognitive consequences of sleep deprivation. Seminars in Neurology 25(1), 117-129.
[4]Porcu, S., Bellatreccia, A., Ferrara, M. (1998). Sleepiness, alertness and performance during a laboratory simulation of an acute shift of the wake-sleep cycle. Ergonomics 41(8), 1192-1202
[5]Yoo, S.S., Gujar, N., Hu, P., Jolesz, F.A., Walker, M.P. (2012). The human emotional brain without sleep – a prefrontal amygdala disconnect. Current Biology, 17(20), 877-878.
[6]von Thiele Schwarz, U., Hasson, H. (2011). Employee self-rated productivity and objective organizational production levels: effects of worksite health interventions involving reduced work hours and physical exercise. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 53(8), 838-844.
[7]Oswald, A.J., Proto, E., Sgroi, D. (2009). Happiness and productivity. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4645. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1526075
[8]Zeidan, F., Johnson, S.K., Diamond, B.J., David, Z., Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and cognition, 19(2), 597-605.

More by this author

How to Have Quality Sleep Effortlessly Getting Through the Afternoon Slump, Nap-Free Are Micro-sleeps Ruining Your Productivity?

Trending in Health

1 7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life 2 8 Best Fiber Supplements on iHerbs (Reviewed by a Gut Health Expert) 3 How to Protect Your Mental Health in Tough Times 4 5 Ways Mindful Breathing Calms Your Nerves 5 10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on June 29, 2020

8 Best Air Purifiers for a Healthy Home

8 Best Air Purifiers for a Healthy Home

Whether you suffer from allergies, have pet friends, or live in a climate where bacteria thrive, the best air purifier will make sure that your home’s air is clean and fresh at all times. We all clean our houses regularly, but it is easy to look over the most important element in our homes, apart from the surfaces, and that’s air. Thanks to the best air purifier, the air in your home will be more breathable and cleaner.

Why You Should Trust Us

If you are looking for which best air purifier is for you, we here at Lifehack have put in the time and effort to find it. There are so many to pick and choose from, so we sifted through dozens to find purifiers suitable for many people.

For these air purifier reviews, we will be suggesting home filters based on three criteria:

  • CADR: The rating that’s used to determine an air purifier’s effectiveness.
  • Room Size: The area that an air purifier takes up in a room.
  • Noise: How loud and distracting it can get.

With these in mind, here are the suggestions for the best air purifiers you can get.

1. Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier

    If you’re looking for an ozone air purifier, this is a solid option. The HEPA filter is capable of capturing up to 99.97% of airborne pollutants, dust mites, and more. The filters provided are able to be washed, and the air purifier has a CADR of 360 square feet. It’s suitable for kitchens and medium to large bedrooms or living spaces.

    That said, the air purifier does have some issues with the sensor, particularly in the auto mode. You’re also stuck with the color of this air purifier as is: black.

    Buy this Air Purifier!

    2. Blueair Blue Pure 211+ Air Purifier

    Advertising

      When considering an alternative, we suggest Blueair’s air purifier. It’s an air purifier that addresses allergies and is safe for pets. It’s able to capture 99% of airborne pollutants and is capable of filtering odors from smoking, pets, cooking, and wildfires. Even the sound it makes isn’t loud. The lowest setting is a sound equivalent to a whisper, and the highest is a sound equivalent to rainfall.

      One downside is the fact this filter is relatively small and is meant to be stationed on the floor. It’s about as tall as a small child, so it’s easy for children to stick their fingers or other objects into the air cleaner. Also, considering the size, it’s not built to handle larger rooms unless you get multiple. Even then, customers noted that the sound could be irritating when using multiple filters in a room.

      Buy this Air Purifier!

      3. Hathaspace Smart True HEPA Air Purifier

        For the best air purifier for your money, the Hathaspace air purifier is a good option. It allows you to adjust settings manually and works well as an air purification system capable of capturing 99.97% of air pollutants, gas, and more. It also comes with a 2-year warranty, so it’s not as risky as other brands that may only have a month or three-month warranty.

        That said, many customers noted that it’s not good at keeping back odors as much. The air purifier has a tendency to shut off when the air quality is good, regardless of if the room smells bad.

        Buy this Air Purifier!

        4. GENIANI Home Air Purifier

        Advertising

          The air purifier from Geniani is another solid option for those looking to fight off allergies and want efficiency in their air purifier. The air cleanser comes with a 2-year warranty and is known for its power while still remaining quiet. You can choose between three speeds, and it even has a nightlight option, too.

          All in all, it’s a great product, though people struggled a little bit with the nightlight option. The light is a little too bright when it’s in the dark, making it disruptive if you’re the type of person who prefers completely dark rooms when sleeping.

          Buy this Air Purifier!

          5. Honeywell HFD-120-Q QuietClean Oscillating Air Purifier

            Another consideration for air purifier home use is Honeywell’s air purifier. One of the big perks from this air cleanser is that the three filters are able to be washed and used permanently, saving you the struggle of buying additional filters. The company also provides replacement filters should the filters perform poorly or get worn down. Beyond that, it’s capable of capturing 99% of air pollutants and is energy efficient, too.

            The air purifier itself is quiet, however, and if you allow it to swivel, the parts themselves could make a loud squeaking sound after a while. It’s also not as strong as other air purifiers around, with customers noting that a ceiling fan may be better.

            Buy this Air Purifier!

            6. PARTU Air Purifier

            Advertising

              Another cheap option is the PARTU air purifier. Some of the main selling points is that it has an ultra-silent sleep mode, a 4-step filtration process, and serves as a night light thanks to the color ring on it.

              Similar to other small filters, this filter isn’t going to be very strong. Furthermore, many customers noted that the filter emitted a sweet scent from it after a while.

              Buy this Air Purifier!

              7. LEVOIT Air Purifier

                The LEVOIT air purifier is a compact air cleaner that actually is actually quite strong for its size. Its CADR is high enough it can cover a 219 square foot space. And although it’s strong, it’s designed to make minimal noise. Pair that up with it being ozone-free and energy-efficient, and you have a solid air cleaner.

                However, like most other air filters you’ll find, it is good at cleaning the air but isn’t as strong when dealing with odors in particular. Furthermore, despite its strength, it struggles to handle larger rooms, making it more suitable for small rooms.

                Buy this Air Purifier!

                8. Coway White HEPA Air Purifier

                Advertising

                  The final filter that we have found is this one from Coway. It’s designed to handle room sizes of up to 361 square feet, offers a 4-stage filtration system, and also has an eco-mode to conserve energy when it’s done filtering.

                  One of the largest criticisms for this air purifier is that the fan settings range widely from the noise pollution. Some customers compared the settings between 2 and 3 to a weaker version of the 1st setting (barely making a sound) to a jet engine starting up. Some people also noted that the air purifier tends to wobble and shake, too.

                  Buy this Air Purifier!

                  FAQ

                  Q: Do air purifiers really work?
                  A: In short, yes. An air purifier consists of one filter (or more) and a fan that pulls in and circulates the air. Exactly like water filters, the idea is that the home air purifiers will capture all of the pollutants and particles before pushing out the rest of the air.

                  As for the filters, depending on the brand, you’ll have different kinds of filters. Filters can be made of paper, fiberglass, or mesh.

                  So long as you are taking care of the air purifier by replacing the filters on occasion, an air purifier should work smoothly and without any major issues.

                  Q: Can HEPA Air Purifiers prevent Covid-19?
                  A: Unfortunately, there is no air purifier that can do anything to prevent or kill the coronavirus. As mentioned above, air purifiers focus on collecting particles and pollutants. 

                  As such, an air purifier, HEPA or any air cleaner, can capture the virus, but the virus will be able to live within the filter for a period of time.

                  Final Thoughts

                  The market is filled with all kinds of air purifiers, and overall, many of them are capable of handling air quality. That said, there may be slight issues depending on what you’re looking for. No matter the case, you are taking the risk of potentially getting a purifier that may run into issues with smells or making too much noise. It’s part of the territory it seems. However, any one of the above air purifiers will help clean up the air and leave your house at least a little fresher. 

                  More Tips on Improving Air Quality

                  Featured photo credit: Progressive Insurance via unsplash.com

                  Read Next