You want to become a productive person.
But something goes amiss. You’re tired the entire day, you’re unfocused, you procrastinate, and you just can’t seem to be able to keep a deadline.
At the same time, there’s a simple solution to your problem:
If you’re unproductive, you probably have a sleep problem. You’re not alone: 35-40 percent of Americans have trouble sleeping.
Sleep (or lack thereof) affects your efficiency, alertness, and productivity.
To become productive, you need to hit the hay.
Ready for a good night’s sleep?
1. Keep up a sleep routine
You might have a morning routine. You know, you get up at a certain time, you brew a cup of coffee and maybe do some stretches.
And that gets you going for the day.
But do you have an evening routine?
It’s just as important to wind down in the evening as it is getting energized in the morning. But what should your evening routine look like?
If your bedtime is at 10 p.m., this is what The Huffington Post’s Sarah Klein recommends:
4 p.m. – stop drinking caffeine
7 p.m. – stop drinking alcohol
7.30 p.m. – finish your dinner
8 p.m. – stop exercising
9 p.m. – stop working and start winding down
Repeat this routine every day, and your sleep quality will improve by leaps and bounds.
It’s important that you go to bed at the same time every night. According to Dr. Nitun Verma:
“Many of my patients have such a different weekday/weekend wake schedule that they are experiencing the same sleepiness that people who are jet-lagged [do]. Even two hours’ difference hurts, especially if they are already sleep deprived.”
2. Exercise during the day
Time and time again, it’s been shown that exercise has a positive impact on your sleep quality.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should exercise in the afternoon to get a good night’s sleep:
“Exercise [in the afternoon] triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature may promote falling asleep.”
Other studies indicate the same. Research shows that if you exercise 150 minutes each week, you sleep significantly better than if you don’t exercise:
“After controlling for age, BMI, health status, smoking status, and depression, the relative risk of often feeling overly sleepy during the day compared to never feeling overly sleepy during the day decreased by a factor of 0.65 (95% CI: 0.44–0.97) for participants meeting physical activity guidelines compared to those not meeting guidelines.”
3. Eat the right food
Do you think food has nothing to do with how well you sleep?
A plethora of research shows that you sleep better if you eat the right food. For example, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania:
“[…] certain dietary characteristics did differ significantly between the normal sleepers (7–8 h) and the other sleep duration categories.”
So what food should you eat?
First of all, drink warm milk. It’s been shown to induce serotonin and melatonin, which are sleep-inducing chemicals.
Second, eat a carbohydrate-rich snack. It stimulates the release of insulin, which helps you sleep.
Other foods include yogurt, bananas, poultry, seeds, fish, eggs, spinach, and nuts.
On the other hand, you should avoid foods like pork, cheese, chocolate, tomatoes, and potatoes. They stimulate the brain and keep you awake.
And remember: never eat excessively a few hours before bedtime.
4. Don't stare at screens
Your computer is a real sleep killer.
Studies show that electronic devices harm your sleep cycle. Your brain confuses the bright light with daylight:
“We found the body’s natural circadian rhythms were interrupted by the short-wavelength enriched light, otherwise known as blue light, from these electronic devices.”
So if you wake up at 1 a.m. to check the time and you open your phone, your brain thinks it’s 1 p.m. And that leads to poor sleep, as your brain doesn’t produce melatonin, which regulates your sleep.
And you know, the problem is getting worse as our screens are getting smaller. People keep their devices closer to their eyes.
Simple: Just turn off all devices 1-2 hours before going to bed. And if you can’t seem to abstain from opening your phone or computer, leave them outside of your bedroom.
5. Make your room dark and other sleep environment hacks
Your sleep environment has a huge impact on how well you sleep.
By now you know that light affects your sleep. To get to those deep Zs, you should block out as much of light from your bedroom as possible:
“At night, keep your sleep environment dark. Light-blocking curtains, drapes or an eye mask can also help, and if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, avoid as much light as possible by using a low illumination night light.”
Something else worth investing in is a comfortable bed. Buy a comfortable pillow, mattress and sheets.
And make sure to cut out all distractions, like pinging email notifications in the middle of the night. Shut off notifications or even better, leave your phone outside of your bedroom.
Last but not least, make sure that the temperature in your bedroom is just right. According to a study, it should be somewhere between 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit:
“Thermoneutrality is reached for an environmental temperature of 30-32 degrees C without night clothing or of 16-19 degrees with a pyjama and at least one sheet.”
You are what you sleep
We’ve looked at how you can improve your sleep quality with these easy tips.
Ultimately, they help you unlock your productivity. You’ll have a much easier time focusing on your tasks and feeling present in the moment. But there are other advantages to a good night’s sleep. For example, you’ll feel more joyful and active throughout the day. Sleep quality is also extremely important for your health.
Now there’s just one more thing left to do:
Get some well-earned sleep!
Camilla Hallstrom helps visionary entrepreneurs master the art of converting content and copywriting on her blog Influence With Content. Grab her top 5 productivity tips and tools for entrepreneurs.