Usually when we think of a productive worker, we imagine someone who spends all their time working – even giving up sleep – to get things done. Burning the midnight oil. Burning the candle at both ends. It’s probably no coincidence that these sayings share a key word with another common saying: burned out. Someone who gets less sleep than needed will be too burned out to work effectively.
As humans, we spend a third of our lives asleep. While that may seem like a huge waste of time, it shows how important sleep is. Without enough sleep, you burn through your energy resources and can affect not only your performance during the day but also your long-term health. Yet the 2016 Healthy Living Index Survey shows that 46% of Filipinos don’t get enough sleep at night, some of the worst results in the region.
Modern living contributes to an “always on” lifestyle that is detrimental to sleeping habits. For hundreds of years, human sleep patterns were dictated by the rising and setting of the sun and our natural circadian rhythms, or our internal sleep-wake cycle.
The first big disruptor in the last century was the advent of electricity and lights that allowed us to stay awake all night. Recently, smart phones have brought our work lives and several distractions into our private spaces. And in the last few years, a hustle culture has taken over young workers who believe that the only way to get ahead is to work 24/7.
But not getting enough sleep is not admirable, and it has more serious consequences than feeling tired the next day. Here are the ways that missing out on sleep makes you less effective at work.
Cognitive function: Lack of sleep can negatively affect your working memory, attention to detail, and your decision-making abilities. Basically, you are less smart when you don’t sleep enough.
Memory: Poor sleep affects both short- and long-term memory, impacting your ability to learn new things and remember important information.
Accidents: People who don’t get enough sleep make more mistakes and have more accidents. Depending on your job, this can have serious consequences, from errors on a report to leaving a pair of scissors inside a patient during surgery.
Health: Not getting enough sleep can affect your overall health in the short and long term. It can suppress your immune system and result in more absences from work. It can also lead to more chronic conditions such as hypertension, depression, and heart disease, all of which can cost a lot in terms of time and money during treatment.
Clean up your routine
If you want to join the other half of Filipinos who are getting enough sleep, then a few easy fixes to your routine can help.
Understand that most adults need around 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Commit to giving yourself that much time each night, and don’t schedule evening activities that will eat into your sleep time.
Make your bed a sacred sleep space. Your body should associate your bed with sleeping, and nothing else. Don’t do work, watch movies, or spend hours browsing the internet in bed. At the most, allow yourself a book in bed because it quiets your mind. Only get in bed when you are sleepy, and if you find yourself unable to sleep, then get out of bed and walk around or sit in a chair until you are sleepy again.
Give yourself a bedtime routine. An hour or so before bedtime should be reserved for quiet activities that help you unwind. Have a warm bath, do some stretching or quiet reading. No screens are allowed during this time because the light from screens can signal your brain to stay awake.
Have regular sleeping and waking windows. Don’t stress yourself about going to sleep at the exact same time each night. If you have a sleep window of 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., but you don't feel sleepy yet at 10, allow more time to unwind rather than lie in bed wide awake with your mind racing. Having a regular schedule gets your body into a routine and you will start to find yourself sleeping and waking at those times naturally.
Avoid sleep stealers. Don’t take naps during the day because you will be less sleepy at night. Cut out caffeine, cigarettes, or alcohol if you have trouble sleeping every night because these can all affect sleep quality.
Getting the right amount and the right quality of sleep is vital to people like you who always want to be at their best, especially at work. When you avail of the suite of protection solutions under BPI AIA's Wellness Series which is powered by AIA Vitality, you can get the necessary push to sleep and raise your productivity at work. As a AIA Vitality member, you can earn five (5) AIA Vitality Points when you sleep for a minimum of seven (7) hours within a day.
Taking control of your sleep is just one step on your journey to living a healthier, longer, and better life. Find out more about the Wellness Series and AIA Vitality by visiting one of the 900 BPI branches across the country.