How much sleep do we really need to work productively?

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This is a hot topic for us in the office, so we decided to do some research. Gloople work in a collaborative environment with two other businesses and we are collectively called Green Room London.

It has been reported that on average, we sleep 24 years in our lifetime. I know, that sounds like a lot of wasted time but sleep is so important, especially when you have your own business and you need to be alert and productive.

So, lets first look at the myth of “I need my 8-9 hours sleep per night”. After extensive research about sleep from Daniel Kripke, he says; “People who sleep between 6.5 hr. and 7.5 hr. a night, live the longest, are happier and most productive”.

We get the general idea of sleep and how it impacts us when awake, but most of what we know is based on hearsay. What’s even more interesting is that scientific research shows that sleeping longer might actually be worse for your health.

What happens to our brains if we don’t have enough sleep?

Have you ever noticed that someone who has had, say 4 hours sleep, is more alert and tentative than someone who has had 8 hours sleep? This is because of sleep deprivation. Someone who is deprived of sleep can deliver the same results as someone who isn’t sleep deprived. This however, isn’t something to do on a regular basis, as this will definitely affect your working ability.

It’s a given that we all lose focus sometimes, regardless of whether we are sleep deprived or not. Once we start to lose focus and we have had the right amount of sleep, our brain can compensate and increase our attention span. If we are deprived of sleep, our brain will not be able to re-focus. Clifford Howard from Harvard said; “The main finding is that the brain of the sleep-deprived individual is working normally sometimes, but intermittently suffers from something akin to power failure.”

As you lose focus and your attention is drifting, the yellow bits show how people with enough sleep, activate parts in their brain to refocus at the task at hand. Sleep deprived people will have barely any activity in that area and will struggle to regain focus as you can see below.

So, how can you sleep your way to success?

1. Take a nap – Some of the core benefits of napping is that you can restore alertness of your brain with just a few minutes of falling into light sleep. Find out when your productivity dips, and take 20 minutes your of your day to re-energise yourself.

2. Develop a sleep ritual – It’s a simple idea to have a ritual every night so that you have a good night sleep. Whether it’s going for a 20 minute walk before bed or reading your book. Find out what works for you and apply it everyday.

3. Make sure you are tired mentally and physically – Before you sleep, you must have at least one mentally challenging exercise as well as a physical one. This will be the difference between a light, restless sleep and a deep sleep that recovers all areas of your body.

It is important to remember that everyone needs a different amount of sleep. Just because one person works well on 7 hours, doesn’t mean someone else will.


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