Back to blog
live better
Productivity is the be all and end all for busy bees. But could missing out on the right number of ZZZs what's holding you back from those productivity goals? Let's find out!
*productivity goals*: why poor sleep could be affecting your performance

Today's world is fast-paced to say the least. And with a constant need to increase productivity, the importance of sleep is overlooked by many. Whether it’s the uphill battle of meeting demanding work deadlines, the constant juggling of an endless slew of responsibilities, or making time to achieve those personal goals, the need to master tasks in a way that is both efficient and effective is abhorrent.

While there are many different factors that can influence our productivity levels, sleep is actually an essential element. And so, in this article we’ll take a closer look at the relationship between sleep and productivity. Read on to learn that need-to-know info on why a good night's rest is integral to optimal performance. Plus get some top tips on how to improve both your sleep and your productivity levels too.

understanding the science-y bits about sleep

Before closer inspecting the connection between sleep and productivity, having a good understanding of the fundamental roles sleep plays in our physical and mental wellbeing is essential. Sleep is complex to say the least. With its several distinct stages, each with its own role to play in promoting health and well-being, sleep becomes key to those striving to be more productive.

sleep stages:

Non-REM (aka NREM) sleep is a stage that can be divided into three substages. And each one of these sleep substages also plays a different role:

  • Stage 1: Light sleep is that cusp between being awake and being asleep. As we’re transitioning from waking life to the land of nod, we find ourselves in NREM Stage 1.
  • Stage 2: Here we’re starting to sleep a little deeper. Our brain waves are slowing down but we’ll still be experiencing the occasional burst of rapid brain activity. Funnily enough, these are actually known as sleep spindles.
  • Stage 3: Deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep (or SWS – the world of sleep loves an acronym), is a key cog in helping us rejuvenate physically. Slow wave sleep is also important when it comes to consolidating memories and better regulating our hormones too. (1)

REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is the stage that is commonly associated with vivid dreams, rapid eye movements (well, duh), and an increase in brain activity. REM sleep is proven to play an essential role in our ability to process our emotions. It’s also associated with memory consolidation, and cognitive function. (2)

so, how are sleep and productivity linked?

The links between sleep and productivity is a two way street. Basically, sleep influences productivity just as much as being productive influences our sleep quality. Neat eh?

Want some more info on the subject? We thought so! Here's what our researched surfaced on the likelihood of insufficient sleep hampering our productivity so that we can all understand why prioritising our sleep is essential if we want to maximise our output:

sleep is a big factor in cognitive function

Sleep is essential for helping our brains to consolidate memories. When we are far away in the land of the sandman, our brain is hard at work consolidating our memories. This helps to integrate new information we’ve learnt that day into our existing back-catalogues of information retention. Not getting enough sleep can halt this process, which make learning and memory retention harder to maintain.

Not only that though, in terms of our cognitive function, the amount of sleep we get can affect our attention spans and our ability to properly concentrate when we really, truly need to. If you want to be able to sustain your attention and concentration – 2 of the most critical skills for productivity – getting the right amount of sleep on a regular basis becomes essential. Not getting enough sleep negatively impacts our cognitive performance. On the whole, this leads to lapses in attention, reduced focus, and deflated decision-making (3).

our mood and ability to regulate emotions affects productivity

Sleep helps to boost our resilience towards stressful situations. It can even help us better regulate stress hormones like cortisol. Prolonged sleep deprivation actually leads to elevated stress levels. And having elevated stress levels can ultimately lead to anxiety and irritability. But in terms of productivity, it can also put us off facing up to those new challenges.

Quality sleep can also help to give our emotional regulators and mood stabilisers a boost. On the flip side, suffering regular sleep disturbances may be putting us at risk of mood disorders like depression or anxiety (4).

sleep is good for our physical health and zest for life

Getting enough sleep is also essential for restocking our energy levels. Not getting enough sleep chips away at our energy reserves. And repeatedly missing out on enough of those ZZZs could eventually lead to fatigue, feeling lethargic, and a general lack of motivation when it comes to that never ending to-do list!

Not only that, sleep is also important when it comes to supporting our immune systems. In fact, sleep deprivation is documented to negatively affect our bodies' abilities to fight off infections and pesky illnesses such as seasonal flus. Furthermore, we all know how much less productive we become when we’re poorly. And so, in the fight to improve performance and productivity, a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is an absolute must (5)!

tips for boosting both sleep and productivity

Now that we've witnessed and understood how sleep and productivity are linked, we wanted to give you some actionable ideas to help you give both of these a boost!

1. prioritise sleep hygiene

Yeah, we know – we’re always banging on about sleep hygiene. But never underestimate the importance of having a consistent sleep schedule! Maintaining that regular sleep-wake cycle by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day (yes, even on weekends) is an absolute must for those trying to be a bit more productive.

You’ll also want to be sure that your bedroom is optimised to help you sleep better too! Do this by reducing the amount of noise, light, and electronic distractions you have in your inner sleep sanctum! You’ll also need a super comfy mattress and some seriously sublime bedding to help create a place you’ll look forward to retreating to after a seriously productive day.

And obviously we don’t want to be a bore but if you want to catch those snores, try to avoid caffeine-filled drinks and foods along with those electronic devices and their bedtime bubble busting blue lights close to bedtime, as they can interfere with how quickly we fall asleep as well as the quality of our sleep too!

2. work out your wind-down routine

Relaxation techniques are key at bedtime! Look to immerse yourself in calming activities. Reading, meditation, or even gentle stretching – whatever floats your boat! Doing these sorts of screen-free, relaxing thing before bedtime helps to send those all-important signals to your body and brain that it's time to start unwinding.

Aim to switch off screens at least an hour before bedtime. By reducing the amount of blue light exposure you experience at night, you should be able to counteract the disruption of production of sleep-promoting hormones including that all-important melatonin.

3. stick to some healthy habits

We know, we know! By now we’re sounding like naggers but working regular exercise into your daily routine can result in better sleep quality. And it’s also wonderful in terms of our overall well-being too. Try to bank at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week to see improved sleep quality on a regular basis.

Maintaining a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is a good move too! Cutting back on the amount of processed foods you eat (such as sugary snacks, and heavy meals) close to bedtime will also help with sleep and productivity.

4. manage your stress levels

Be it through mindfulness and meditation or some other stress-busting activity, conditioning yourself to engage in regular activities that help to reduce stress and promote relaxation is never a bad idea. Techniques like deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery can be a handy tool when worked into your daily routine.

5. if in doubt seek the advice of a medical professional

If you're one of the many who are experiencing relentless sleep difficulties despite trying your best to implement those self-care strategies, we’d urge you to seek guidance from a sleep specialist. Sleep specialists are equipped with the tools needed to evaluate and diagnose any underlying sleep disorders. Plus they can also provide personalised treatment approaches that work with your needs.

our conclusion

If you’re looking to improve productivity in your life, sleep is not a factor that should be overlooked! Sleep is concentric in supporting cognitive function, emotional well-being, and physical wellness. And all of these elements are essential components when it comes to productivity. In short, if you want to be more productive in your waking life, make your sleep a priority!