February 21, 2022 3 min read
Sleep is — without a doubt — necessary for health and well-being. It’s an essential function that helps the brain and body recharge for the day ahead. And yet, many people seem to view it as a luxury that keeps them from doing something more “productive.”
In reality, sacrificing sleep for the sake of productivity is, well, counterproductive! Sleep deprivation will inevitably affect mental functions you need to stay ahead, like attention, concentration, problem-solving, emotional processing, and memory. Still think you can function well on less sleep? Here is a scientific explanation of why that is not the case.
In our competitive, 24/7 work culture, many falsely hold on to the belief that sleep is wasting time. As a result, people will often sacrifice sleep on the altar of success. But this often comes at a price. As the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society explains in their position statement:
“Sleeping less than 7 hours per night is also associated with impaired immune function, increased pain,impaired performance, increased errors, and greater risk of accidents.”
The expert panel reviewed over 5,000 scientific articles before arriving at their final recommendations, one of which is that adults need at least 7 hours of sleep every night to be productive.
Besides that, a group of researchers looked at longitudinal data involving over 11,000 participants from the Kansas State Employee Wellness Program to examine the link between poor sleep and work. As expected, their findings show that not sleeping enough negatively affects work performance.
Sleep is an essential physiological function. It affects virtually every body system, from your brain and heart to your metabolism, mood, and immunity. Without enough restorative sleep, all these systems inevitably suffer, leading to problems that affect productivity:
But why do we need sleep to function?
Well, sleep gives the body and especially the brain an opportunity to recover and rewind. For example, there’s evidence sleep is essential for memory consolidation. Researchers propose that changes in brain waves during the different stages of sleep strengthen neural connections that form long-lasting memories.
Sleep also allows the brain to recover from free radical damage accumulated during wakefulness. This happens because metabolic processes slow down during sleep, and metabolism is the main driver of free radical formation. Keeping free radicals in check is important for neuronal health.
Many things can affect the quality of your sleep. Stress is the leading cause of chronic sleep problems and can even lead to insomnia. Having a health condition can lead to fragmented and poor sleep as well. Here are things to do if your sleep and productivity have suffered:
Sleep hygiene refers to all those healthy practices that promote restful sleep. Just some of these include spending time outdoors, exercising, avoiding mentally stimulating activity before bed, etc. Sleep hygiene is recommended as the first-line treatment for insomnia as well as for its prevention by sleep experts.
Stress can negatively affect sleep, and a lack of sleep can exacerbate stress. Break this vicious cycle by focusing on stress relief. Establishing a work-life balance, taking care of your mental and physical health, and spending quality time with friends and family can all help reduce your stress levels.
Most sleep disorders can be diagnosed at a doctor’s office, but others require undergoing a sleep study. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy are examples of sleep problems that can interfere with productivity and that may require a sleep study.
Mild to moderate snoring can disrupt you and your bed partner’s sleep. A convenient and quick snoring solution comes in the form of oral appliances like our Good Morning Snore Solution tongue-stabilizing devices. These help structures inside the mouth and throat from collapsing and blocking your airway.
Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, et al. Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society.Sleep. 2015;38(6):843-844. Published 2015 Jun 1.doi:10.5665/sleep.4716
National Institutes of Health. Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Published 2019 Aug 13.https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/patient-caregiver-education/understanding-sleep
Medical News Today. What is insomnia? Everything you need to know. Updated on 2020 Jul 28.https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9155#symptoms
Rasch B, Born J. About sleep's role in memory.Physiol Rev. 2013;93(2):681-766.doi:10.1152/physrev.00032.2012
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