Sleep and productivity

Yesterday, Jacki Hollywood Brown’s article explored the relationship between music and productivity. Today, I want to continue with another productivity booster, which has been called the “third pillar of health,” sleep.

The relationship between sleep and productivity seems obvious: adequate sleep means you’ll have enough energy and focus for the coming day. While that’s true, there is much more to it than that.

A 1999 study discussed at 2013’s Corporate Sleep Health Summit demonstrates that a lack of sleep can affect not only productivity, but innovation. After losing just one night’s sleep, subjects experienced “…particular impairment to tasks requiring flexible thinking and the updating of plans in the light of new information.” While most people don’t regularly lose an entire night’s sleep, consider that many driven business people and entrepreneurs wear their four and five hours of sleep like a badge of honor.

Meanwhile, a BBC study suggests that deep sleep “makes room” in your brain for the next day. “One of the main things the brain is doing [during deep sleep] is moving memories from short-term storage into long-term storage,” the study claims, “allowing us more short-term memory space for the next day. If you don’t get adequate deep sleep then these memories will be lost.” Ever forget some crucial information for that big meeting? An extra hour of sleep could be the remedy.

Now that I’ve described just some of the benefits of a restful night’s sleep, I want to point out some technology that will help you hit the hay.

Sleepy Fan ($1.99, iPhone). When I was a kid, I spent summer nights falling asleep to the sound of a large box fan, not unlike this one. I fell in love with is steady hum, and today I use the Sleepy Fan app in its place. It offers three fan types to choose from, and even lets you adjust the sound itself.

The FitBit has a feature that lets you track your sleep. When paired with a smartphone app, it lets you view data on your previous night’s rest, including restful moments and when you were fidgeting.

The Philips Wake-up Light is a nice alternative for those who dislike being jarred awake by a screeching alarm. Over a period of 30 minutes, the Wake-up Light gradually brightens itself from dark to a custom illumination level (up to 250 lux) and provides pleasant audio.

You can get a good night’s sleep, listen to music appropriate to your task at hand, and enjoy a satisfyingly productive day.

7 Comments for “Sleep and productivity”

  1. posted by skiptheBS on

    IOS app Sleep Machine has numerous ambient sounds and household sound choices for urbanites, ruralistas, and transplants. Use the smallest earbud possible and enjoy.

  2. posted by liz on

    Using an app for the sound of a fan??? Heck, I need the fan for the movement of air at night! Hormones, need I say more?

  3. posted by Vijay on

    While I totally endorse that sleep is a given for productivity, I can’t but feel sad for how far we have stretched technology. Getting an App to Sleep?

  4. posted by Roberta on

    Night shift nurses (me), any night shift workers, never get enough solid sleep. Could you address this in a second post? I use an eye mask, I turn off ALL stimulation except for an enjoyable, time limited podcast to lull me into sleep. I put my iPhone on “do not disturb.” Nothing will ting or ring except my alarm. I try to sleep in a darkened room but also have 12 dogs in and out of the house – love them but not always conducive to sleep. My max uninterrupted sleep may be 3 -4 hours at a time. About 3-4 times a year, I take myself to a motel during the day OR night, close the shades, and sleep solidly w/o fur, barking, or interruption. My first day off is totally non productive because I’m not concerned about getting to work that night and thus, relax more and tend to try to catch up on my sleep. Thank you. Sorry for the long comment.

  5. posted by TV James on

    I like White Noise by TMSOFT – you can find it for Android and iOS in both paid and free versions. It has a lot of different sounds and regularly produces and offers new sounds for free. You can mix multiple sounds together (my favorite is rain + ticking clock + fan) and also adjust the pitch, cadence and relative loudness of the mixes you make.

    Breathe Right strips also help me to sleep more soundly. (Possibly some undiagnosed sleep apnea or something.)

  6. posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    I’ve just got a fitbit device (picked it up yesterday). It also works with a PC or Mac – it comes with a syncing dongle. I don’t (yet) have a smart phone so this is how I upload my data.

  7. posted by Ajana on

    Another app for tracking movement while you sleep is SleepBot. You can adjust the sensitivity if you share a bed. It also has an alarm feature that monitors when you are moving more (i.e. not in a deep sleep) 30 minutes before the set alarm time and plays whatever alarm tone/tune you choose that gets gradually louder. If you’re not moving the alarm will sound at the set time. I’ve been using it for about a year and a half because I wanted to see how much I’m moving in my sleep because I have a tendency to be very restless when I sleep.

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