We've all decided to forgo sleep to study, to finish a project for work, sit up with a sick child or even to go to a party. But you might find that as you age, you won't be bouncing back as quickly. And if you suffer from insomnia or interrupted sleep but had to get up and function the next day, you'll know how painful that is.
How much sleep do you need to be productive? Well, the American Sleep Association recommends that adults get between six and ten hours of interrupted sleep each night for optimum health. Of course, there are exceptions--Einstein and Steve Jobs reportedly needed far fewer than that to function-- but as a rule, you should aim to get at least the minimum amount of sleep.
You know that if you don't get enough, you'll be less productive while at work, and probably not very comfortable to be around. But, did you know that science has linked sleep deprivation with a whole host of other problems?
Here are four ways a lack of sleep can affect your work-life balance:
1. Short Term Memory Loss
UC Berkeley sleep researcher Matthew Walker, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience conducted a test to determine the difference in memory of young adults and older adults. The tests show that the quality of deep sleep among adults was 75 percent lower than the younger ones, and as a result their memory was 55 percent worse.
This can equate to forgetting to do simple things, like remembering to reply to an important e-mail, and the password to a little-used email account will become harder to remember when you're running on little sleep. Your brain on limited slumber will be working hard at the basics and there won't be as much energy left over for other tasks.
The last thing you want to do is forget an important aspect of your job, and be penalized for it. Imagine overlooking a high level business meeting, or accidentally hitting snooze one too many times for work because you went to bed too late, it's not a good look.
2. Lack of Concentration
Focus and concentration will be more difficult when you're operating on less sleep than usual. Your body will be fighting to stay awake and operating on survival mode. When you're tired, it's not the time to be working on a big project or studying for an important exam, because you're almost guaranteed to give a less than stellar performance.
However, not many us of have the option to decide when vital tasks are given, so it's a good idea to be on your toes at all times.
3. Mood and Morale
Have you noticed that you when you're tired, situations always seem much more dire? Our patience for things that we're normally all about wears thin when we are low on ZZZs, and we aren't as well-equipped to deal with stressful situations. If you find you feel more sad or depressed when you are tired, remember to take it in stride. It could be exhaustion messing with your head.
Take it from me, I recently had a meltdown which I attribute to a combination of stress, hormones, and generally being overworked. I sat at my laptop as tears welled up in my eyes because I just didn't want to be at work anymore that day. I didn't much sleep the night before, hadn't had lunch, and really just needed to take a breather. It happens.
4. Risk of disease
The result of longitudinal epidemiological studies performed by Harvard shows that the likelihood of your body having trouble regulating itself when you're running on little sleep is high.
Everything is working harder, from your head to your stomach, to your lungs, to your kidney to your spleen. Your body is like a machine, it needs proper fuel and rest in order to run properly. This year it seems that self love and wellness is a huge talking point, as entrepreneurs worldwide acknowledge that the "hustle" lifestyle is actually really detrimental to their health.
So what are some practical ways to deal with insomnia and interrupted sleep? Try to avoid getting on the computer or checking your phone at least an hour before bed. Create a calming bedtime routine (warm shower, maybe a cup of tea) and properly darken your room.
If you have any upcoming deadlines or important tasks bouncing around in your head, write them down so they won't weigh on your mind all night long. It's time to disconnect so that you can be productive, happy, and healthy all year long.