How Sleep Affects Productivity

Do you ever feel like you don’t want to get out of bed, let alone open your eyes? And then other days, you feel so refreshed and ready to start the day! I’m sure we all have both of these kinds of days. Probably more of the ones where we don’t want to get out of bed. I would rather have more days where I feel refreshed, ready to get the day started and be productive. Do you know how sleep affects productivity?

I believe everyone has a sweet spot in terms of getting the right amount of sleep and how productive you are all day. Not everyone is going to do well on 8 hours. We all have slightly different amounts that our body needs. I say this because of my own experience where I found just the right amount of sleep for me and I usually have energy all day. You can find your sweet spot, too!

Usually, the problem is not enough sleep

Recently, I hadn’t been getting enough sleep. I was sleeping about 6 – 6.5 hours every night. Then, I would try to make up for it by sleeping for 8 – 9 hours on weekends. I know that’s not a huge difference or much more sleep on weekends, but I love to get up early on weekends. Otherwise, I feel like I waste precious time, especially quiet time before my husband wakes up.

On work days, I would have an alarm set for 5 am and then more alarms after 5 am because I always fall back asleep after the first alarm. Sometimes I turn the alarm off on accident, so snoozing isn’t very reliable. But I couldn’t get myself out of bed until about 6 am! I intended to get up between 5 and 5:30 but it usually didn’t happen. It’s so hard to get out of your warm, comfy bed!

The turning point

One Sunday morning I woke up at 6:30 am (I know, you probably think I’m crazy for this but hear me out) and I felt so refreshed and energized! I was in a great mood and ready to start the day. By 9 am, I had already walked my dog, did the grocery shopping, and did a load of laundry. As I was drinking coffee at 9 am, I realized I must have gotten just the right amount of sleep for me. But wait, how many hours was it?? Luckily, I had been wearing my Fossil smartwatch that tracks steps and sleep and it told me I slept for 7.5 hours. I’ve never used my watch for tracking sleep before but now it comes in handy!

Now, I try to always get 7.5 hours of sleep, no matter what time I go to bed. This actually means that I set my alarm for 5:30 am instead of 5 and I have to make sure I get to bed by 10 pm. I get about 30 minutes to an hour more sleep than usual and I don’t feel the need to hit snooze 5 times (which my husband is very happy about). Sometimes this is hard because if I do have to actually be up at 5 am, that means I have to go to sleep at 9:30 pm. That’s a little early for me, but not impossible. I just have to plan for it and make sure I have a book to read so I can fall asleep easier. At my work, we always joke that if you have trouble falling asleep, just read the Tax Code when it’s time for bed. That will put you to sleep in 5 minutes flat!

How sleep affects productivity – the straight answer

Let’s say you’re not getting enough sleep, so in other words, you sleep less than your right amount. Then, you waste time by pushing snooze too many times, you’re tired throughout the day, and you may be falling asleep at work after lunch. When you find what the right amount of sleep is for you, you literally add productive hours to your day. Even if you sleep more and take away hours you’re awake, you add productive hours. You don’t waste time pushing snooze, you’re energized, happy, ready to work, and in the end, more productive all day. You may need a caffeine boost in the middle of the day still, but you probably won’t be falling asleep all day long.

The National Sleep Foundation says that getting an optimal amount of sleep affects productivity by

  1. Quickly recovering from distractions
  2. Avoiding burnout
  3. Making good decisions
  4. Improving your memory
  5. Making fewer mistakes

If this doesn’t help you perform better at work or school, then I don’t know what will!

What about too much sleep?

Maybe you’ve heard about the health risks of getting too little sleep, like high blood pressure, weakened immune system, mood changes, memory issues, etc. I’ve experienced a weakened immune system myself during the busy tax season before. Similarly, getting too much sleep isn’t good for multiple reasons. I always feel really tired if I get too much sleep. Harvard Medical School confirms that getting too much sleep can and probably will make you very tired. Then, after doing that multiple days in a row, you will actually experience fatigue.

Not only does too much sleep make you more tired, but it has health risks, too. Too much sleep has been linked to higher rates of mortality and several diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and more. I won’t go into the medical details, but you get the picture.

How can you find the right amount of sleep for you?

First, we need to start off knowing approximately how much sleep you should be getting every night.

Sleep Time Recommendations

If you’re an adult 26 – 64 years old, you need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. I think the best way to find the sweet spot is just to pay attention to how much sleep you get every night (make it between 7 and 9 hours) and see how you feel in the morning and throughout the day. Try out 7 hours, then 7.5 hours, then 8 hours, then 8.5 hours, and finally 9 hours (if you have time for that much sleep). Keep track of how you feel when you sleep these different amounts. You’ll probably have to keep some notes – find a notebook or use your phone. You could even keep track of this in a Google calendar or something similar.

Once you wake up feeling refreshed and you note how many hours you slept for, try that same amount every day for a week and see how you feel after a week. If you’re not convinced, try a different amount of sleep for the next week and compare the two weeks. Without involving professionals, I think trial and error is your best bet here!

How Sleep Affects Productivity - Pinterest

We know sleep affects productivity, so I hope you know or will try to find the right amount of sleep for you! Do you know what your optimal amount of sleep is? Share in the comments!

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