People in 2021 are sleeping longer, but with lower quality. We all know that sleep is essential for our wellbeing, but how can you get a good night's sleep in a world where sleep is regarded as a necessary evil? Sleep expert Frida Rångtell shares the best methods for getting a well-deserved rest at night so you can perform at a high level during the day.
To feel good and be productive at work, you need to prioritise recovery. And there is no better way to recharge your batteries than a good night's sleep. Getting enough sleep is sadly not prioritised in our time, where waking up early comes with a badge of honor. But in the long term, how will this affect us? And how can we instead use sleep as a tool for wellbeing and high performance?
Frida Rångtell, scientific advisor at Sleepcycle joined us for our Lunch & Learn. She discussed how sleep influences our work, and how we can sleep and feel better in our everyday life.
What is sleep?
Compared to wakefulness, sleep is essentially another state of mind. Sleep helps us recover both psychologically and physically, but we also use it to plan for the future. During sleep, you might reflect on what you’ve learned and experienced during the day. Even when you are unconscious, you consider how you can use that knowledge to prepare for tomorrow.
Sleep serves many functions, Frida says. You become more productive, creative and learn more effectively. But it’s also essential for your brain health. As we interact with our surroundings during the day, toxins are produced in our brain. It's almost as if we're "cleaning" our brains as we sleep.
How does sleep affect our work performance?
Getting enough sleep is critical to being able to perform, be productive and to procrastinate less. If you ever feel like you can’t focus or you don’t seem to get anything done, it’s possible that you’re not getting enough good sleep.
There are many ways in which sleep affects our work. It can even have an impact on how we treat our coworkers. A person who has not been sleeping well may be less able to handle discussions and feel more stressed than a person who has been sleeping well.
What can we do to create better sleep habits?
If you feel tired, less alert or have a difficult time dealing with stress, this might indicate that your sleep hasn't been optimal. What you need to do is invest in your sleeping habits. Here are some things you can do to improve your sleep:
- Visualise your ideal night’s sleep. In the long term, how do you want your sleep to be? Then take small steps that lead towards that goal.
- Consider limiting your use of technology. Wind down during the evening by avoiding social media and e-mail. And also be cautious of uv-light from cell phones and computers, since our brain is sensitive to it and tends to make us more alert.
- Get enough sunlight. This helps us strengthen our internal clock. Also, dim the lights during the evening to prepare for sleep.
- Determine how many hours of sleep you need. Adults usually need about 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same hour every day. Regularity is a crucial factor in getting a good night’s sleep.
Many aspects of sleep are out of our control, Frida says. We can’t force ourselves to sleep, and expect to never wake up in the middle of the night. Therefore, better sleep occurs when you create the habits and conditions you need to sleep better.
How can leaders inspire colleagues to sleep better?
When we are stressed at work, our sleep suffers. A leader's top responsibility is to make sure their coworkers feel good, and can focus on being productive. Here are some things a manager can do to unload their colleagues' minds and create a culture based on well-being and productivity.
- Allow for breaks during the work day. Small breaks allow the brain to rest for a few minutes. It will make you feel refreshed as you continue your work.
- Create a culture where you don’t have to be available 24/7. We need to be able to shut out work. This will make us sleep better and be more creative in the long run.
- Clear expectations. Explain to your colleagues what you expect of them, and they won’t have to worry about what’s required of them.
We need to change how we talk about sleep, Frida says. Nowadays, people like to highlight the fact that they don’t need much sleep and work hard. We need to normalise discussing our mid day naps and how we prioritise sleep for our wellbeing. Leaders set the tone and should be the ones to change the conversation, which will in turn change the behaviours that control our sleep quality.
If you want to hear this interesting conversation and improve your sleeping habits to perform and feel better, you can watch the Lunch & Learn here.