As people wearing multiple hats, we’re constantly looking for ways to rev up our productivity—whether it’s using a new scheduling system, setting timers every 15 minutes, or pumping caffeine and sugar through our veins. However, there is one simple trick many of us overlook. This one little productivity hack improves your focus, enhances your memory, and generally keeps you from acting like a jerk in social situations. I am, of course, talking about getting a good night’s sleep.
If you want peak performance, you want a good night’s sleep. Albert Einstein said, “My best work comes the day after my best sleep.” Arianna Huffington suggests you “Sleep your way to the top.” Yet more than 30% of the American population currently suffers from insomnia. Lack of sleep can keep you from full productivity at work, which in turn forces you to overcompensate or overperform, which is not a good idea.
Here’s what you need to be doing to catch those crucial Z’s every night for better work patterns during the day.
1. Set a Workable Bedtime
And stick to it. If you know you’ll never get to bed by 10, don’t set yourself up for failure by making that a goal. Shoot for 10:30 or 10:45. The trick is to set a deadline that will not stress you out or have you hurrying through your bedtime routines as if Hannibal Lecter were after you.
2. Stop All Stimulants After 6 PM
According to health guru Richard Simmons, the list may surprise you. It includes coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, sugar, coconut oil, legumes, bananas, and gluten. All of these items boost your metabolism, blood pressure, and synaptic brain responses, making it difficult to enter the relaxed state needed to fall quickly asleep.
3. Don’t Overeat
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Having a light snack before bedtime is OK, but eating too much may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable while lying down, making it difficult to get to sleep. Many people also experience heartburn, a backflow of acid and food from the stomach into the esophagus after eating, which may keep you awake.”
4. Check for Bedtime Allergies
The folks at WebMD suggest changing and washing bed linen, including pillow cases, at least once every five days to halt the spread of dust mites and skin mites—microscopic creatures that float around the bedroom at the slightest breeze. When breathed in, these tiny critters can often trigger a mild allergic reaction, even in people with no previous allergy history. And if you experience trouble sleeping while your dog or cat is in the bedroom with you, it may be time to say adios to Rover and put him in a separate room, as pet allergies can develop at any time of life.
5. Use Lavender
Studies show that the scent of lavender has a slight sedative effect. Try rubbing some lavender baby lotion on your feet prior to bed. Or spray lavender scent on your pillow. Keep dried lavender in your linen and dresser drawers.
6. Be Lazy at Bedtime
Suppress the urge to be creative when bedtime approaches. Adam Farra, CEO of HostGator, advises: “I often get great ideas just before bedtime; but instead of staying up an extra hour or two to work them out in detail, I just jot down the main points and save it for morning. That not only helps me to get to sleep faster, but also gives me something to look forward to when I wake up.”
7. Try Nasal Strips
A mechanical aid to sleeping, with no chemical side effects. If your nose gets stuffy at night, no matter what you do, just use a disposable nasal strip across the bridge of your nose to pull your sinuses open. They’re available at any drug store or supermarket.
8. Exercise During the Day
But not just before bed. CNN reports that moderate exercise during the day enhances the ability to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep longer. It also helps increase your REM sleep cycle—that time during sleep when you have all those funny dreams. REM sleep is an essential part of the sleeping pattern. Without it, your sleep will not be refreshing. You’ll just feel like you blacked out for a few hours, not that you rested.
9. Turn Off the TV
Sorry Jimmy Kimmel, you’re out of the picture. Instead, keep some magazines or short story collections on your nightstand and not long, involved novels! You may be tempted to stay up longer just to find out who the murderer is.
10. Surround Yourself With Blue
According to Jaymi McCan of the Daily Mail, research shows that the color blue is the most restful color in the spectrum. So, use blue bedsheets, paint your bedroom walls blue, and hang a copy of Blue Boy where you can see it from your bed!
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Photo of man sleeping courtesy of Shutterstock.