When looking at ways to improve our performance at work, one contributing factor that is often overlooked is sleep. Many people treat sleep as almost superfluous. It is not something that they give a high priority to. It is one of the first things to go when they need more time for work projects or other tasks at work or home.
But research has shown how important sleep is to our performance. During sleep, the brain is assimilating all of the experiences and knowledge accumulated during the day. It is essential for adequate cognitive functioning. In fact, some have compared the cognitive deterioration from lack of sleep to inebriation. Loss of sleep can impair your judgment, slow your thinking and make you forgetful.
Lack of sleep has also been linked to various health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.
Health experts say that most people need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. Here are some things you can do to get a good night’s sleep.
1. In The Daytime
Exercise is important if you want to sleep well. It tires you out, making it easier to fall asleep. However, you don’t want to do it too close to bedtime because just after a workout, your body is still revved up from the exertion.
Try to avoid napping. But if you do take a nap, make sure it is no longer than 45 minutes.
If you are doing any studying, reading or writing, don’t do it in bed. Doing this forms an association in your mind between bed and work activity. So, when you get into bed, your mind will automatically go into work mode, becoming more alert and focused, rather than relaxed, making it harder to fall asleep.
2. Just Before You Go to Bed
Avoid caffeine and alcohol because they can disrupt your sleep. The same goes for electronics – avoid them before bedtime.
Also, don’t eat a big meal because this can affect your sleep.
Establish a consistent bedtime routine to signal your body that it should slow down and get ready for sleep. For example, shortly before bedtime, do a little reading, change into your pajamas, brush your teeth, and turn down the bed.
Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning to get your body used to a regular schedule.
Check room temperature. You will have trouble falling asleep if it is too hot or cold.
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