Now that we’re entering midterm season (I know, sorry for bringing it up), plenty of students sleep less as the amount of schoolwork increases. If you’re not in school and working, it’s easy to feel like you’re not getting enough rest in today’s hectic world. Regardless of your situation, sometimes you just don’t get enough sleep.
How does sleep really impact your work?
One study found that lack of sleep is directly related to poor levels of function at work, but many likely find that an obvious conclusion. However, it gets worse. Another study found that while sleep deprivation doesn’t necessarily impact rule-based cognition (think mostly mindless tasks, like standardized tests), it negatively affects your innovative thinking, strategic planning, and risk analysis.
If you’re in school, you definitely need your planning skills to manage your schedule, and innovative thinking is often needed when working on assignments. If you’re working, whether at a full/part-time job or an internship, these skills are crucial. When your innovative thinking is impacted, and you can’t utilize it to your full potential, this could easily affect your employer’s impression of you. They won’t see your best ideas. If your planning abilities start to decline, it’s easy for things to start slipping through the cracks, potentially missing deadlines or making mistakes. Lastly, if your risk analysis skills are weakening you could end up making poor decisions with worse consequences than originally thought, which could even result in getting fired.
Get more sleep.
I know what you’re probably thinking: that’s impossible, my schedule is packed too much for that to happen, or other various excuses. But lack of sleep can dramatically impact your productivity, mental health, and overall well-being. Far too often, I would put off work I needed to do during the day in favor of finishing it later when I got home. This left me doing work at home until the wee hours of the morning and had me feeling exhausted the next day. Chances are, there’s something in your daily routine that you can change to benefit your sleep schedule.
Make some changes.
Start winding down about one to two hours before you plan on going to bed. Turn off your television, phone, computer, or whatever technology you’re using. It will make it easier to put your mind at rest. If you really can’t resist using technology, at least use the blue light blocker on your device if it has one. Most people probably know it already, but the blue-tinged light that our devices emit is proven to make it harder to sleep. Using the blocker turns the lighting to a warmer tone, which is less likely to keep us awake. If your device doesn’t have this function, you can easily purchase a pair of blue light blocker glasses that you can wear to reduce eye strain (I own a pair and highly recommend them) with or without a prescription.
It’s also all about consistency. Your sleeping habits are called a “sleep schedule” for a reason! It might feel boring but go to bed around the same time every night and try to wake up at the same time too. A regular, healthy sleep schedule means you won’t feel the need to sleep in. Even if your college classes start at different times on different days, you should still try to wake up around the same time every day.
Sleep is so crucial to our well-being, but it’s often the first thing we neglect when life gets hectic. It’s easy to stay up late working on a project, or to lose yourself watching a series on Netflix, but it’s so much more important to be well-rested! When sleep impacts your performance at work and school, it must be a priority, no matter what!