At one point or another, you’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to get sleep. This is a fairly popular idea.
We’ve all been told as kids that we should go to bed and make sure we have enough sleep for the next day, and as adults, we’re told that sleep is important for our performance at work. In plenty of articles about how to be a more productive worker, getting more sleep is one of the main recommendations. And some modern businesses have cut down on excessive hours, believing that workers who get more sleep are more efficient compared to ones that receive less sleep but work longer.
With that being said, you may wonder whether or not these ideas are actually true. There’s a lot of urban legends about health that have spread just through word of mouth, so should we regard these ideas about sleep the same way or should we take them more seriously?
We fortunately don’t have to look for an answer to that question ourselves. Research has already been done on the subject, and we’ll take a look at the findings. You may be surprised by some of them, including the amount of money that a business potentially loses if its workers aren’t sleeping enough.
How much sleep should you get?
One of the first questions you have might be how much sleep you actually need according to science. There’s no one universal answer, in fact. This is something that varies from person to person, and it also changes as you age.
When someone is first born, they’ll sleep for most of the day. This can be between 14 and 17 hours, in fact. The amount of time that you sleep will steadily decrease as you go through the stages of early childhood, dropping to about 10-13 hours a day by the time you’re in preschool. Teenagers are said to need about 8-10 hours a day of sleep while there’s a less solid range with adults, as some may only need 6 hours but others need as much as 10.
A lot of it depends on the person, so when it comes to determining the exact amount of sleep you need, you should see what works for you personally. Not everyone is tired if they don’t sleep an entire night, but some people require more than the average amount to remain productive. Neither party in this case is wrong.
The main consensus from experts is that you could use more sleep if you feel drowsy during times you shouldn’t, such as during regular activities during the day.
The benefits of sleep
So, you know about how much sleep you should target. What benefits do you actually gain from getting that amount of sleep every night? The research shows that the benefits can be significant.
For one, you’ll experience better cognitive skills and a sharper memory. If you’ve had problems with forgetting important details during the day, not remembering what you’re doing, or feeling sluggish when handling things that should be easy, you may need more sleep to pick up your mind. Getting sleep also makes it easier for you to learn new information and respond to situations in front of you.
Also, sleep has an impact on your memory too, not just the speed of your brain. More sleep may help you if you have the kind of job where you need to add more information to your memory frequently or if you need to study for something effectively and add new subjects into your memory during an assignment.
The cognitive effects of sleep are especially important for people in the business world. Sleep can make the difference between performing well and performing poorly in important tanks, and one study from the RAND Corporation of more than 4,000 workers found that those who slept less had significantly worse outcomes in multiple categories ranging from performance to safety.
This wasn’t just a negative for the workers, but for the business also. The study claims that each worker that received poor sleep was around $2,000 less productive. This added up to a major amount of money across the board. Specifically, a combined loss of $54 million dollars annually. In larger scale economic terms, this can lead to a country losing almost 3% of its GDP in lost productivity.
Sleep can also have benefits for your heart health. This is because sleeping allows your body to recharge and to lower your blood pressure. The longer you stay up, the longer your blood pressure goes without being lowered, and you may be more likely to suffer from things such as heart disease or stroke.
Similarly, the glucose in your blood is also lowered when you enter a state of deep sleep. Getting more of this sleep can reduce your chance of diabetes down the line, because it reduces the amount of time your body spends with heightened levels of glucose.
To keep with the general theme of how sleep recharges your body, you should also be aware that your immune system benefits from sleep and that if you’re well rested, it will respond quicker to threats and protect you more effectively.
All in all, most areas of your health tie back to sleep in one way or another, and getting more of it generally comes with benefits in both immediate and long term ways. If you want to improve your productivity and performance and you’re looking for a way to do it, consider maybe taking an easy option and getting more sleep ahead of time.
Finally, if you’re in a position of managing a business, consider making sure that your workers are able to get the sleep they need. It’s not just something nice to do, but something that’s also key to keeping up productivity.