How to Improve Sleep to Optimize Your Performance
Sleep is a vital part of performance and wellbeing and is just as important to overall health as eating well and exercising. However, too often busy schedules and lack of awareness about good sleep habits mean that we’re missing out on quality sleep – and failing to optimize our performance and productivity.
Here’s why sleep is so important, and how to make sure you’re getting the rest your body and mind need.
Why Sleep Matters to Performance
Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to productivity, cognition, problem-solving, memory, focus, creativity, and performance. It can have an impact on every facet of your day, from work to working out to socializing. Getting a solid night’s sleep helps workers perform better, feel less stressed, and enjoy improved health outcomes – reducing the likelihood of getting sick or needing to take time off. The risk of depression is also lower for those who sleep well.
Sleep is also critical to both performance in athletes, resulting in greater workout intensity, higher energy, improved coordination, and greater speed. Recovery is greatly enhanced, and the risk of injury is reduced.
Tips for Better Sleep
While we often talk about the importance of getting 8 hours’ sleep, it’s not just the amount of sleep that matters. Sleep quality is crucial too.
Try these tips to improve the quality of your sleep:
- Stick to a routine. Try to get your 8 hours at about the same time every night. Your body will adjust to the routine and will naturally want to fall asleep at your designated bedtime. Changing things up can result in jetlag!
- Be mindful of circadian rhythms. Your body has a natural sleep schedule based on light exposure. Get enough access to bright, natural light during the day, and limit blue light exposure in the evening. Try switching screens to “dark” mode and using gentle lighting.
- Keep active. Physical activity during the day can result in better sleep at night. Just avoid strenuous workouts too close to bedtime, as these can have the opposite effect.
- Limit afternoon caffeine. We all love a cup of joe, but try to keep your consumption to the morning. Caffeine lingers in the system, and that 3 pm pick-me-up can keep you up at night. Switch to herbal teas instead. Note that pre-workout blends and alcohol also affect sleep.
- Skip the naps. A quick 15-minute power nap can help you through a mid-afternoon slump, but napping for too long can affect your ability to fall asleep at night. If napping is impairing night-time sleep, try skipping the nap to see whether things improve.
- Avoid screens before bed. Watching TV or scrolling your phone before bed can get your mind buzzing. Put away screens at least two hours before bed and read a book, meditate, listen to music or write in a journal instead.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Use blackout curtains, and keep your room at a cool, comfortable temperature. Keep screens out of your room – or at least switch them off well before turning in. If outside noise is a problem, use a fan or white noise machine.
- Leave your worries at the door. Anxiety can keep you up at night and affect your sleep. Write down any “to-do” items or things that are bothering you so that you can deal with them in the morning rather than holding them in your mind at night. Meditation and breathing exercises can also help.
- Try a melatonin supplement. Low doses of melatonin can help improve sleep quality in some people. Others experience vivid dreams, so your mileage may vary!
Talk to Optimum About Reworking Your Sleep Schedule
At Optimum Coworking and Optimum Human, we’re keenly aware of the importance of quality sleep. Our coworking spaces are meticulously designed to allow you to build a routine that optimizes performance while giving you time for R&R. Optimum Human offers a wealth of amenities, facilities, and programs that take into account your need for rest – and our expert staff can help you improve your sleep habits – for improved results at your desk, in the gym, and beyond.