The Surprising Science behind Sleep and Productivity

Updated on June 18, 2019

What if there is a free pill in the market that makes you feel good, less tired, happy and improves your overall health? Although there is no such pill, according to science, sleep does exactly that. According to a study done among 4, 188 U.S workers those who had bad sleep patterns experienced worse productivity, performance, and safety outcomes. There are many drivers of lack of sleep including- workload, stress, anxiety, etc…. So, many people are not getting enough sleep because they are working too much? Should it be the other way round, that the more you work, the more you want to sleep?

According to Mathew Carter, a sleep specialist at William’s College, the majority of the people compromise sleep time to get more work done or get more time for recreation.   a sleep deprived person is less productive and tends to be gloomy all the time. In TEDx talk, he explained that you can have more done if you can get a good night’s sleep. These studies have proven that getting a good night’s sleep is extremely important. Besides your productivity, sleep also affects your health. As a matter of fact, it’s estimated that over 70 million Americans have a sleeping disorder.

How Lack of Sleep can Affect Productivity

One study done among middle school students found out that by delaying school start times by one hour, we can significantly increase standardized test scores by at least two percentile points.  More so, those who sleep more way more productive than those who sleep less to work more.


Although scientists don’t know the real connection between headaches and lack of enough sleep, certainly there is a link between the two. As something that they’ve been studying for several years, migraines have been found to be triggered by lack of enough sleep.  It’s hard to remain productive if you have a headache.

You’ll make more mistakes

According to one research, one sleepless night contributes to at least a 20% increase in the number of mistakes made by surgeons. In another study, it was found that sports players, especially activities that require more focus, like shooting and cycling, made more mistakes when they didn’t get enough sleep. Even without looking at these studies, I am sure if you are a player you’ve experienced this feeling when you are not yourself.

How much sleep do you need to be productive?

If you ask a dozen people how much sleep they need, you will definitely get several answers. While some people believe in 8 hours of sleep, others say they are fine with at least 6 hours. In reality, the majority of people needs something between 6 and 8 hours of sleep. But overall, it depends. Thankfully, there is a test that you can do right now to check out if you need more sleep. For instance, if you feel sleepy, then it means you need more sleep.

Also, research has also shown that the quality of sleep is very important. Sleep quality is determined by several factors, such as what you ate, your level of stress, and the amount of light you received before going to bed.

How to improve your sleep for productivity sake

No alcohol or carbohydrates before going to bed- Carbohydrates can not only keep you awake but can also negatively affect your sleep quality. Forget about the health benefits; skipping sweet midnight snack can actually boost your day time productivity.

No screens before bed- No tablets, no phones, TVs, and computers for at least one hour before going to bed.  Apart from the bright light that emanates from these devices, what you are looking at can stress you out or excite you.

Make sure you sleep on a comfortable bed- ensure you have a super-comfortable mattress to sleep on every night. Do proper research before you purchase your mattress, for example, when you read the  Helix vs Casper Matress review, you will know that Helix is best for those who are looking for a comfort level more than normal while Caper is the right choice for those who need a normal comfort level but need a memory foam mattress. Reading and comparing will help you to make an informed decision regarding the best mattress for you.

Prepare for sleep and make it a routine- Although most people expect sleep to just happen this should not be the case. You must prepare for sleep for it to happen. Some of the things that you can do include turning down the lights around the house, changing into sleepwear before bed and reading a book about motivation or productivity.

Wrap up

Will our culture finally accept that sleep has direct effects on our productivity? Although there are already some positive signs until we move towards valuing sleep you can at the very least start appreciating it. Workaround the small things that can make a difference in your sleep patterns and can help you be more productive and happy.

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