The quality and quantity of sleep you get at night can have a significant impact on how you feel the next day. As a working professional, your performance at work is directly connected to how well you slept the night before. To be as productive as possible, you need to get sufficient shuteye for your body’s needs. You should know a few things about the link between sleep and productivity.

Current Sleep Recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults over 18 get at least seven hours of sleep each night. But it’s important to note that everyone is different. You may find that you function just fine with six hours of nightly sleep. Or, you may need at least nine hours of shuteye to avoid feeling sluggish the next day.

You may also go through periods of life when you require more sleep than at other times. For example, stressful situations, illnesses, and jet lag can all lead to temporary fluctuations in your sleep needs. But for the most part, your body should remain pretty consistent in how much sleep it requires to function well. Once you determine your optimal number of sleep hours, try to get that much sleep each night. That way, you’ll easily meet your daily productivity goals.

How Poor Sleep Affects Productivity at Work

Poor sleep doesn’t just make you feel groggy the next day. It also impacts your ability to function and be productive at work. One analysis of sleep hours and productivity reveals a strong link between the two. Employees who reported getting eight hours of sleep at night also showed increased productivity. On the other hand, employees who received insufficient sleep reported more daytime fatigue and decreased productivity.

For the human body and mind, sleep isn’t optional. You can’t be chronically sleep-deprived and expect to perform as well as you would with adequate sleep. Just as a vehicle needs regular oil changes to continue functioning, the human body requires quality rest to perform optimally. It’s estimated that productivity losses due to poor sleep and fatigue cost businesses nearly $2,000 per employee each year. Many of these losses could have been avoided if the employees in question simply snoozed more each night.

The Connection Between Cortisol and Sleep Quality

Have you ever woken up after a rough night of sleep and felt completely run down or even ill? If so, it’s likely because elevated levels of cortisol were circulating through your body. Cortisol is commonly called “the stress hormone” because it rises in response to stressors.

That said, cortisol isn’t always negative. Think about how some stress can be motivating. While cortisol levels at night can ruin sleep, the body naturally boosts your cortisol levels in the morning to get you up and going. It’s the same way the body should naturally produce melatonin to put you to bed. The problem is only when cortisol spikes before bed.

Unfortunately, elevated cortisol levels can also lead to sleep problems, which can, in turn, lead to elevated cortisol. These two problems are so closely related that it’s natural to ask which came first, a lack of sleep or a spike in cortisol? Without managing one, you probably won’t be able to manage the other, either.

Many working professionals burn the candle at both ends because they think doing so will help them be more productive at work. What they don’t understand is that elevated cortisol levels can actually hamper productivity. High cortisol can also hinder decision-making skills, negatively impacting visual perception and memory.

Ways to Improve Your Sleep

Good sleep is essential for helping you meet your productivity goals. But knowing how important sleep is won’t do you any good unless you’re getting enough of it. From taking supplements to managing your time better, here are a few things to try if you need help getting sufficient sleep:

Go to Bed Earlier

Sometimes, the fear of insufficient sleep can ironically prevent you from falling asleep. To remove the high stress that comes from worrying about your nightly shuteye, go to bed an hour or two earlier. The extra time will help remove the panic from knowing you need to fall asleep right away to get enough rest.

It’s also beneficial to go to sleep simultaneously each night. You want to set your sleep clock called your circadian rhythm. All bodies have an internal clock that works with the cycles of the day, and going to bed on time and being consistent is critical to keeping it working correctly. If you manage to set it and keep it running smoothly, your body will automatically know when to wake up — even without an alarm clock.

Once you improve your bedtime routine, you also want to stick to a schedule in the morning. When you get up, go outside to enjoy the sunlight within 30 minutes of waking up. Studies have shown seeing a bright light in the morning will help you fall asleep more easily at night. This allows you to set your circadian rhythm clock in the morning.

Take Sleep Aid Supplements That Naturally Activate Your Hormones

Some people have a more difficult time falling asleep than others. If you’re one of those people, taking a sleep aid supplement could be very helpful, and you may already be familiar with melatonin. Many sleep supplements contain melatonin, which is a hormone the body naturally produces to help initiate sleep. However, too many people take exogenous melatonin that helps them fall asleep but doesn’t help them stay asleep.

It’s important to understand that melatonin works in sync with your circadian clock, but it can’t completely control it. How your body naturally produces melatonin can offer a better solution, and you may be surprised to learn it involves serotonin. The gut actually produces about 95% of the body’s serotonin, which is a precursor to melatonin production. So, improving your gut’s function is likely a better approach to improving your sleep.

This is where a different kind of supplementation can be beneficial. Numo gummies offer a sleep gummy option without melatonin. Instead, they boost gut health with active cultures to help you produce your own melatonin. They are also loaded with carefully-crafted ingredients like Magnesium L-threonate, apigenin, and L-theanine. These relax your muscles, and the type of magnesium used crosses the blood-brain barrier to calm the nervous system as well. Rather than fighting your body’s natural processes, you can embrace and boost those systems.

Help Your Mind and Body Wind Down

What you do in the hours leading up to bedtime really matters. If you like to curl up on the couch and scroll through YouTube videos while enjoying a snack and sipping caffeinated soda, that’s a problem! The blue light emitted from electronic devices can mimic sunlight and make your body think it’s the middle of the day. Combine that with the stimulation from caffeine, and you’ve created a recipe for disturbed sleep and nighttime wakefulness.

To help your body wind down at night, put away your cell phone at least an hour before bed. Letting your body know it’s dark will help keep your circadian rhythm on track. Consider taking a warm bath, meditating, or engaging in another relaxing activity to rest your body and mind.

You should avoid drinking caffeine after noon so it doesn’t keep your mind and body wired at night. You should also avoid eating at least three hours before bed. If your blood sugar is high at night, your body will use all its systems to process food. At night, the digestive system and gut need to focus on rest, repair and helping you sleep. If they don’t get a break, you won’t get a good night’s sleep.

Exercise Regularly

Exercising regularly can improve sleep quality in the following ways:

  • Reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep in the first place
  • Alleviate daytime sleepiness
  • Reduce the likelihood of developing weight-related sleep issues such as sleep apnea

Note that exercising temporarily increases the body’s core temperature, which can interfere with sleep quality. That means it’s generally best to schedule your workouts well before bedtime.

Manage Your Time Better

Poor time management is a productivity killer and can cause you to sacrifice valuable sleep hours just to stay caught up. If you’re pulling all-nighters or surviving on just a few hours of sleep, it’s only a matter of time until your body revolts. Instead of working harder and longer hours, try working smarter. You can start by managing your time more effectively.

You may need to be a little bit radical at first to get your schedule under control. But your drastic efforts will pay off when you can finally give your body the sleep it needs. If you face a barrage of email or text notifications during all hours of the night, disable those notifications. Whoever is contacting you, they can wait until tomorrow.

If you tend to work late into the night because you hate disappointing others, it’s time to lower your standards. For the sake of your physical and mental health, you need to know when to say “no.” Remember, overworking yourself to the point of burnout won’t help you be more productive. It will do just the opposite. You’ll be far more productive if you learn how to give your body the recovery time it needs in the form of quality sleep.

If you’re concerned about your ability to stay productive at work, prioritize sleep. As you do, you’ll have an easier time staying focused and on task so you can get more done each day.

[Related: How to Improve Your Sleep During National Sleep Comfort Month]

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Cup of Couple; Pexels; Thank you.