Advanced Workplace Associates’ (AWA) latest research looks at the factors that most impact our cognitive performance – so individuals and organisations can understand and adopt best practices to get employees’ brains in peak condition. Sleep is one of these crucial factors. Without adequate sleep reaction times may be slower, more mistakes may be made, and tasks often take longer.
Further research tells us that while we’re asleep, our bodies complete a host of important process to keep us functioning at our best. Our brains recharge, our memories are consolidated, our muscles repair and our bodies release hormones regulating growth and appetite. The completion of these processes is essential to our daily wellbeing and allows us to be productive. The amount and quality of sleep you achieve each night has a crucial impact on the other two thirds of your life - one of which is spent at work.
Develop a regular sleeping schedule
Really try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, or as often as you can. This can help establish a routine, reinforcing the body’s sleep-wake cycle. This can be helped by creating a bedtime ritual. Experts believe that doing the same thing each night tells our bodies that it’s time to rest.
Try not to eat a heavy meal before bed
Leave a few hours between dinner and bedtime and leave the protein-rich meals for breakfast and lunch when your body needs the energy. Don’t do any stimulating activities right before bed, such as working out at the gym – they tend to keep you more alert and make relaxation difficult.
Resting at work
Of course, this is not always feasible. But AWA’s research on productivity – where they explored trust and the supportiveness of managers towards their staff – showed that if you have a supportive manager and feel trusted by them and your colleagues, then it’s more likely you’d feel comfortable taking a rest, or even a nap, during work-time, if you really need one. If you’re seriously considering rest breaks in your workplace, whether you are an employer or employee – you’ll need to talk about it and establish it as part of the range of acceptable work practice
Although the benefits of sleep are well known, getting a good night’s sleep in our busy, pressured lives is difficult. However, given what is at stake it has to be worth trying to develop some new habits so that we can all perform better in the long run.