Sara Westgreen

How Sleep Affects Your Working Life

Freelance Writer Sara Westgreen from science hub chats about how sleep affects your working life. 

"Mind fog, irritability, poor memory—everyone has felt the effects of sleep deprivation at one time or another. Unfortunately, in the workplace, lack of sleep can mean poor performance and less productivity. Whether you’re hunting for a job or searching for a good way to maximize productivity, sleep could be a valuable factor. It keeps you alert and focused. With a little knowledge, small changes can make a big difference in sleep outcomes and professional performance. 

“Freelance Writer Sara Westgreen from sleep science hub chats about how sleep affects your working life. “

Focus and Concentration

Lack of sleep changes how the brain works. During a seven-hour night of sleep, the brain’s glymphatic system flushes waste out of the tiny spaces in the brain. If you’re not asleep long enough, some of those toxins remain, potentially clogging the brain and slowing your thinking process.  

Lack of sleep also causes adenosine to build up in your system. Adenosine serves a number of purposes in the body, one of which is to build sleep pressure. Sleep pressure is the growing fatigue and tiredness that makes you want to sleep. In the morning, you don’t (or shouldn’t) feel it at all. Throughout the day, it builds until you can’t resist it the urge to sleep. If you don’t fully relieve that pressure at night, your body and brain will try to put you in a sleep state during the day. 

Image trying to concentrate and focus on your work while your body is doing everything it can to put you to sleep. It’s like trying to fight a battle on two fronts. You’ll end up losing both your productivity and sleep quality. 

Memory and Creativity

While you sleep, the brain keeps running through the information you’ve accumulated during the day. That unconscious repetition streamlines the learning process. The brain also consolidates memories while you sleep, connecting new memories with the old to solidify recall and enrich your knowledge.

That process of learning and memory consolidation contributes to your creativity. Studies have found that people are better able to solve creative problems when they’ve had to time to sleep. The brain keeps working and cleansing, which illuminates solutions that may not otherwise be realized. 

Maximizing Productivity

A 2008 survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that 20 percent of adults felt that lack of sleep lowered their productivity. A brain that’s fighting to stay awake simply can’t be as productive as one that’s well-rested. 

In addition, lack of sleep leads to increased irritability, aggression, and sadness. That’s reflected in your relationships with fellow employees, customers, and clients. A growing career and business must be fueled by adequate sleep. 

Promote Healthy Sleep Habits

Small changes in habits and behaviors can make big changes in the success of your sleep. Doing them yourself or encouraging them within your company can lead to better productivity and relationships. 

The Right Conditions: Let the words dark, cool, and quiet rule in the bedroom. Reduce distractions as much as possible. Make sure your pillows and mattress work together to keep your spine in a neutral position to prevent aches, pains, and nighttime waking.  

Predictable Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day, even weekends. That supports the body’s circadian rhythms and trains brain to release sleep hormones at the same time each day. 

Build Routine into Your Life: A bedtime routine signals the brain that it’s almost time for sleep. It also lets you reduce tension and stress before bed. 

Good habits and a commitment to better sleep can boost productivity and keep you and those you work with safe. It takes effort, but the benefits are more than worth it."

Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.

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sleep    working life    health and wellbeing