How Sleep Affects Your Health and Performance

Sleep, rest, relaxation. It’s the one thing we don’t get enough of in our busy lives. In fact, sleep is often the first thing we give up when we’re busy with work, school, and parenting responsibilities. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Below are some ways lack of sleep affects your health and performance.

Physical health
Sleep is important for healthy immune function, digestion, and appetite. Adults who sleep the recommended seven to nine hours each night have better body temperature regulation, experience fewer unhealthy cravings and food binges, and generally have better digestive health. A healthy amount of sleep also contributes to better immune function, making you less susceptible to illnesses, like the common cold. According to one study, people who averaged less than seven hours of sleep per night were three times more likely to catch a cold!

While healthy adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night, most only get about six and a half hours. The cumulative effect of a sleep deficit is contributing to less productivity in the workforce, including struggling to stay focused in meetings, taking longer to complete tasks, and finding it challenging to be creative. Because we are less productive during the day, we often bring work home with us creating a vicious cycle of later bed times and less focus during the day.

Sleep tips
Now that you understand how sleep affects your physical health and performance at work, these sleep tips will help you get a better and more restful night’s sleep:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule and keep that schedule on weekends. This helps your body regulate your internal clock so sleeping becomes easier.
  2. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. Try reading a book or drinking a cup of tea. A relaxing routine that doesn’t involve bright lights, excitement, or stress relaxes your body to prepare it for sleep.
  3. Exercise daily. Exercise helps your body sleep and your immune system stay strong. Try to fit in some type of exercise each day.
  4. Evaluate your room. Sometimes we can’t sleep because we are too hot, too cold, or something is making a distracting noise. Make sure your bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees, and free from light and noises.

If you still can’t sleep, talk to your doctor. Many health factors and conditions can contribute to not sleeping well and should be investigated.

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