The Best-Kept Secret To High Productivity? Quality Sleep
ThMichelle de Matheu, High-Performance Life & Business Coach. Mind-Body & Soul Stylist.
The secret of high productivity is something we all seek, but in the search, we sacrifice the most important practice. I am not talking about exercise or reading. I mean a good night’s sleep. Do not underestimate the importance of sleeping well. Your productivity, analytical skills, creativity and even the success of your career or business could depend on this practice.
I believe this secret to high productivity is one of the best-kept secrets. The reason? We decide to ignore the clues or signals that our body gives us, choosing to listen to the voice of the expectations of our mind, boss or environment. Thoughts like “I cannot stay behind,” “I work and I do not see results” and “I will be fired if I do not keep going” lead to a so-called “run-run” mentality. This cycle of never-ending tasks is the real problem that takes us further every day from our true productive potential.
As many high-performance athletes know, the key to true productivity is not just eating healthy or having the same routine every day. True training begins eight hours before waking up. By having a restful sleep, you regain your energy, are able to better process recent events and make decisions about the future.
Here’s another way of thinking about it: Just imagine, for a second, sitting in a Formula One car. You have everything you need — the equipment with the necessary precision, technicians, even an entourage of fans. You prepare and start the race of your life, but you only go 1 kilometer. All this preparation, equipment and training, but you do not advance more than 1 kilometer. Why is that, what was missing or what failed? This is when you realize you didn’t have enough fuel. We may have everything we need, but if we do not have the strength —or the fuel — to move forward, we can’t do the incredible things that we know we are capable of doing.
Getting good quality sleep can help you feel and become your best self. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has found that a healthy sleep routine can help you improve your focus, creativity, mood and memory.
Here are seven tips to put into practice and improve your sleep:
1. Observe your daily habits. Good habits will lead to an effective routine and help you build a system where your well-being is nourished and your performance increases. That said, it’s important to view these habits in context and in relation to sleep. For example, including physical activity in your daily routine is a great habit but should be avoided right before bedtime when adrenaline makes you more alert.
2. Create a sleep schedule. It’s important to establish a routine that you enjoy by waking up and going to sleep at consistent times throughout the whole week.
3. Avoid long naps. You want to be careful about taking long, extended naps during the day in order to avoid disturbing your sleep routine. If you find yourself needing to nap, that’s a good indicator you’re not getting quality sleep at night and may need to adjust your routine.
4. Optimize your sleeping space. Pay attention to the room’s smell, noise, external lights, temperature and weight of blankets.
5. Leave technology out. If possible, remove or turn off devices three hours before bed. Why? Light has different wavelengths and colors. Blue light, for example, comes from electronics with screens. Harvard researchers conducted an experiment to understand the effects of blue light at night and found that blue light can suppress the secretion of melatonin more powerfully than other sources of light, such as daylight. If you need to work late or use electronic devices before bed, the researchers recommended wearing blue-light-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters out the light at night.
6. Relax. Just like any habit or skill, it takes time to learn how to relax and prepare yourself to rest. Taking a relaxing hot bath or shower before bed can help you get into that feeling and mindset.
7. Practice gratitude. Write down three words or things you are grateful for. This helps your mind store good memories and prepare a positive state of mind before bed.
Sleep is extremely important for performance, learning, creative development and well-being. Pick a few exercises from the list above and experiment for a week to see if you can increase your sleep performance. Enjoy discovering how sleep can contribute to your performance, motivation and efficiency.
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