Sleeping even 16 minutes less than needed can cause serious problems with the ability to focus and concentrate the next day. Irregular sleep can, therefore, complicate our private and professional lives, fueling a vicious circle of stress and fatigue. What do scientists say about our habits? How can we solve the problem of irregular or disturbed sleep?
Risk of conflict
Specialists agree: If we do not sleep well at night, we can’t count on effective work the next day. Researchers from the University of South Florida published the results of a study on 130 IT workers in the Journal of the National Sleep Foundation. Each person had at least one school-age child. It turned out that shortening a night’s rest by as little as 16 minutes seriously confuses our hormonal balance.
As researchers discovered, the day after less sleep, our cognitive abilities and our ability to concentrate on tasks decrease. In turn, stress levels increase, work-life balance deteriorates, and the risk of conflicts in every area of our lives increases.
In order to fix the problem of the resulting fatigue, we go to bed earlier and get up earlier the next day, which disturbs our normal circadian rhythm.
“Such cyclical relationships show that the quality of sleep also depends on the amount of our daily stress, and can also contribute to its increase and the formation of a vicious circle,” says Professor Soomi Lee, the publication’s author.
“The results of this study show that employers should put more effort into promoting the good sleep of their employees. Well-sleepers will achieve better results at work through their ability to concentrate, make fewer mistakes, and have fewer conflicts with others,” explains the researcher.
But what if our employer does not support such practices or initiatives? First of all, we need to take care of our good rest practises ourselves – both at work and at home.
What should we do?
- Take care to get up and go to bed at regular times. On weekends and holidays, do not sleep any longer – the body only tolerates a one-hour difference.
- Take breaks from work – our lunch break should be used for a meal, not catching up on work. It’s also a good idea to take a few minutes off every hour and walk away from our desk.
- After work, forget about work duties – if this is not a razor-edged situation, let’s try to leave the work laptop at work, and let’s hide the mobile phone in a drawer on the weekend. Let us also try to slow down the pace during our free time and focus on our passions or interests.
- Train mindfulness – if you have a child, you can do these exercises together. Describe together exactly what you see outside the window at the moment, what colours surround you, or what sounds you hear. When lying in bed, it is also worth focusing for a few seconds on every smallest part of our body.
- Don’t overload the senses – an increasingly common affliction. The bombardment and over-reading of incoming information do not have a good effect on sleep or rest. You can also try a duvet or sensory blanket (weighted blanket) that has a soothing effect on the nervous system and reduces the amount of cortisol produced in favour of serotonin. You can take such a tool to work and cover yourself with it during the day.
- Clean surroundings – contrary to popular belief, the desk at which we often spend most of the day is an important tool in the fight against fatigue. Just follow a few rules: remove everything that is not absolutely necessary from the tabletop, group items, put things in their place, and try to keep your desk clean as long as possible to work more efficiently and find the things you need faster. Such a rule should also apply at home – there we should mainly rest and not be upset by mess and disorder. Keeping your apartment clean really helps!