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The Science Of Sleep: 8 Secrets About Sleep And Productivity I Wish I Knew Earlier

The Science Of Sleep: 8 Secrets About Sleep And Productivity I Wish I Knew Earlier

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that sleep is important. It rejuvenates the body, refreshes the mind, and if you go too long without it, it can literally kill you.

1. You approach the end of the work day with more energy

According to studies, if you don’t get enough sleep, you reach exhaustion around 11% faster than people who get enough sleep. That may not sound like a lot but in an 8 hour work day, that’s the difference between getting tired at 4:15 P.M. and getting tired at 5 P.M. That last 45 minutes can be some of the most productive of the day if you’re awake enough to experience it.

2. You react to things better and more quickly

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    After just two days of not getting enough sleep, your reaction speed and attention span are absolutely shot. Not paying attention to something or not reacting to it in a timely manner can happen three times more often after just a couple of days of not sleeping well. When you’re not paying attention or reacting to events in the workplace, you may struggle more with assignments and work in general. It’s not worth staying up late to watch Netflix. Get some sleep.

    3. You won’t put it off til the last minute so often

    Lack of sleep has been linked to procrastination. When you don’t sleep well, your energy levels are low and that means you simply don’t feel like doing the work you normally do. This can tank your productivity and actually make you procrastinate.

    4. You’ll be in a better mood to do work

    There is a mental feeling of well-being when you get enough sleep and it shows when you show up for work. You’re happier, more energetic, and when you sit down at your desk you’re more prepared to tackle the day. It’s psychological but it’s still tangible because there is no doubt that you get more work done when you’re rested and prepared for the day as opposed to getting terrible sleep.

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    5. You will approach jobs like you’re not drunk

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      According to a British medical journal, going 17-19 hours without sleep makes your brain act the same way it would if you had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.05 (the same you’d get if a 140-pound woman drank two glasses of wine an hour). If you reach the 24 hour mark, that goes up to 0.10. In some states, that’s not even sober enough to drive. With better sleep comes better clarity and with better clarity comes more productivity.

      6. You will solve problems better

      Famous minds like Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison loved their nap times. That’s because they always had a problem to solve and sleeping can help you with that. When you sleep, your brain is still pretty active sorting out things and solving problems. When you wake up, your brain is fresh to tackle new problems and continue to solve old ones.

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      7. You approach work more creatively

      Sometimes it’s how hard you work, it’s how you work. When you’re tired, you may be too zombified to find more productive ways of doing things. After a good night’s rest, you may not just be ready for a hard day’s work but you may approach your problems more creatively which can help you work smarter not harder. Who knew that having more energy could actually save you more energy? Aside from every scientist ever and now you, of course!

      8. You will have a better memory

      Have you ever left your job and halfway home remembered that you forgot to do something? Or been on your way to work and realize your forgot something important at home. When you get good sleep, you’ll likely start remembering those things before you’re in the car on your way to your next destination. Like we discussed, sleeping kind of helps the brain clean its own slate and that means you have less on your mind to push the stuff you need to remember out of the way.

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        Sleeping is important. It doesn’t take science to tell you that. Aside from the dozens of health benefits, sleep can also help make you more productive and help you enjoy your job more. The bottom line advise here is the same as it always is. Get more sleep!

        Featured photo credit: Incredible Things via incrediblethings.com

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        Joseph Hindy

        A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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        Last Updated on July 17, 2019

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

        What happens in our heads when we set goals?

        Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

        Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

        According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

        Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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        Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

        Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

        The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

        Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

        So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

        Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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        One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

        Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

        Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

        The Neurology of Ownership

        Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

        In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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        But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

        This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

        Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

        The Upshot for Goal-Setters

        So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

        On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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        It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

        On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

        But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

        More About Goals Setting

        Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

        Reference

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