The human body is hardwired to sleep at night and be active during the day. Unfortunately, society requires employees to work shifts that conflict with this natural rhythm.
A regular sleep cycle is essential to maintain health, focus and career success. Fortunately, there are several ways to improve your sleep habits if you have to work a non-traditional schedule.
Benefits of Adopting a Regular Sleep Cycle
When people do not sleep enough, it can lead to a wide variety of health problems. These can include obesity, depression, pain, heart disease, and weakened immune systems. Those who work night shifts are often at an especially higher risk for lack of restful slumber.
Getting the right amount of quality sleep can improve your performance on the job, as well as your overall quality of life.
Statistics say that 32.8% of Americans say they sleep less than 7 hours, which is the absolute minimum for a good night’s sleep, and 8% of adults use prescription sleep drugs.
A regular sleep schedule, a comfortable and quiet sleeping environment, avoiding caffeine and other stimulants before bed, and engaging in relaxation exercises before retiring can all help you achieve a better sleep cycle.
The average person goes through four to six sleep cycles each night, each lasting about 90 minutes. Each cycle is made up of four individual stages: three stages that form non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep, and one REM phase.
- Stage one of the sleep cycle is light non-REM sleep, during which the brain slows down its activity and the eyes and body begin to relax. It is during this period that most waking occurs.
- The next is deep sleep, a time when the body produces 95% of human growth hormone and repairs muscles. It is difficult to wake up during this period and many people feel groggy when they do so.
- The final phase is REM sleep, during which the brain converts short-term memories into long-term ones and dreams occur.
Techniques to Develop a Healthy Sleep Routine
As stated above, a healthy sleep cycle includes several different stages, such as light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep. Getting enough time in each of these sleep cycles allows the brain to focus and clear away irrelevant information, which may explain why you feel ready to take on challenges after a good night’s rest.
To achieve optimal sleep, try to stick to a regular sleep schedule
- Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (even on weekends) helps to keep your internal clock in sync with your natural rhythms.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can interfere with a good night’s sleep. Watching TV in bed or using electronics before sleeping can also disrupt a healthy sleep cycle. Rather, choose soothing activities such as reading, listening to relaxing music or engaging in relaxation exercises.
- Having a consistent sleep schedule can help you stay in the light and REM sleep stages longer, which leads to better memory and improved cognitive performance. However, jet lag, pulling an all-nighter or shift work can easily throw off your sleep schedule, so it’s important to create a healthy and comfortable sleep environment.
- Making sure that your bedroom is dark and quiet and at a comfortable temperature will help you fall asleep. A good mattress and pillows are essential for a comfortable sleep.
- Remove anything from your bed that you don’t need, such as books, clothes or gadgets. You should also limit your exposure to bright lights, as they suppress the production of sleep-controlling melatonin.
Your Career and Wellbeing – The Role of Sleep
Sleep affects your work performance and health in many ways. Your mood, immune system, brain and heart function, metabolism, and creativity all depend on how well you sleep at night. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to serious problems and even impede your career success.
The body has circadian rhythms that are controlled by a biological clock and operate on a daily schedule. These include the circadian drive to sleep and wakefulness and the homeostatic need for rest. If these two systems are out of sync, problems like jet lag and insomnia occur.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, if possible.
- Try to get the same amount of sleep every night and have a regular bedtime routine that includes relaxing activities, such as taking a hot bath or reading a book.
- Avoid using phones, computers or televisions before going to bed and should make your bedroom a quiet place to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
- If you work shifts or have a non-standard schedule, you may need to change your sleep habits. Seek professional help from your employer or a labor union to find out how to adjust your work hours to allow you to get enough sleep on a consistent basis.
A few hours of lost sleep does not have a major effect on your work performance, but long periods of insufficient rest can detract from your productivity and make you irritable and unfocused on the job.
Long-Term Benefits of Optimal Sleep
Sleep is a vital part of our physical and mental health. Getting enough rest helps you feel refreshed and ready for work and daily life activities.
It can also affect job performance and productivity. Research has shown that people who get less sleep are more likely to experience stress, make bad decisions, and be prone to counterproductive behaviors at work.
One night of sleep loss can decrease brain metabolism in the prefrontal cortex which affects judgment and decision making. It can also increase the risk-taking behavior of individuals. It can decrease memory and learning capabilities.
The best way to keep your career moving in the right direction is by ensuring that you get sufficient quality sleep. This can be done by establishing a consistent sleep schedule, incorporating healthy lifestyle habits, and addressing any underlying conditions such as sleep apnea.
Sleep-deprivation is a problem that is prevalent in all sectors of the workforce, but it’s especially common among professionals who are trying to advance their careers.
They may be tempted to sacrifice their sleep to stay on top of their game, but this can have long-term negative effects on their career and personal wellbeing.
If you find yourself struggling with a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, it’s important to seek professional help.
Seeking Professional Help
If you prioritize your career, you may find yourself sleep-deprived. It is important to keep in mind the impact this can have on your work.
There are many things that you can do to improve your resting habits and optimize your health. It is also important to be cognizant of the symptoms and signs of sleep deprivation so that you can seek professional help when necessary.
Some industries are still struggling with the issue of workers not getting enough rest. This is most evident in industries that require long shifts, such as police officers, fire fighters, and truck drivers.
Often these workers are away from home and their beds for days on end. This lack of rest can cause fatigue and result in dangerous job-related accidents.
The good news is that it is possible to reduce the risk of these types of accidents by ensuring that your employees get sufficient rest before going to work. Implementing strategies to promote better sleep habits can also be beneficial for the overall workplace culture.
Encourage your employees to set aside a regular sleep schedule, avoid heavy foods and alcohol before bed, abstain from caffeine and other stimulants at night, and ensure that their sleeping environment is comfortable and free of distractions.
Consider encouraging your employees to exercise on a routine basis and to schedule personal tasks outside of their scheduled sleep hours.
A healthy sleep cycle is a paramount part of maintaining a successful career. It can help increase your productivity and performance, reduce stress levels, and improve overall physical and mental health.
By setting an appropriate bedtime routine, creating a comfortable sleeping environment, and avoiding late-night snacks or stimulants prior to going to bed, you can ensure that you are getting the most out of your sleep and maximize your success in all aspects of life.
With a good night’s rest, you can be confident that you have done everything possible to keep yourself energized, healthy, and productive for a successful career.