From a math perspective, it makes total sense that if you have more hours in the work day, you can get more done, right?
So what is the easiest way to gain more working hours? A younger me once arrived at this simple conclusion. I can just sleep less and I’ll get more done!
But is the equation really that simple? Do hours worked = productivity achieved?
It turns out it’s just not that simple. We can eliminate that argument very easily with just one sentence.
If this was the case, an 18 year old high school grad would have the same level of output as a 39 year old MBA who has been in the work force for 15 years. I think we all know that’s not the case, yet so many professionals today still boast that they can be productive without sleeping an adequate amount. They may not think so, but this is absolutely to their own detriment.
Let’s explore how sleep, or lack thereof, affects overall productivity.
To help me out, I’m welcoming my friend Elizabeth who has dug into the science of sleep for us. Take it away Elizabeth!
A good number of people in business will boast of sleeping for five hours or less. What they don’t know is that they are not only hurting themselves but also their employers. Companies tend to rely on the skills and knowledge of their employees. However, once you don’t get enough sleep, these factors are critically affected.
Other than just decreasing our productivity, sleep deprivation also affects our creativity, physical health and mood. It’s even linked to severe cases such as depression and suicide. But we’ll not talk about that today. Instead, I’ll be a bit technical as I try to uncover the weak notion that a-five-hour sleep is good. So, here’s what I think!
First, We Need To Understand the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Stage
This is the part of sleep that keeps our brain healthy. Other steps are referred to as non-REM and are responsible for repairing and healing our muscles. It’s interesting to note here that adults spend almost ninety minutes of each night at this stage. That’s roughly around 20% and on average, nearly five years of their lives.
So, what happens during REM stage? Well, here our brains create pathways to assist us in learning and retaining information. Even reports from try mattress will tell you not to mess with this part of your sleep routine.
Increased Emotional ‘Relapses’ At Work
In other studies, employees who didn’t get enough sleep became more stressed and got angry quickly. This kind of a reaction is because of the Amygdala, the part of the brain which is responsible for emotions. According to the report, the increase in anger and stress is because the activity in this section of the brain increases by more than 60%.
Also, because of depriving your body of enough sleep, you disrupt the connection between the Medial Prefrontal Cortex and the Amygdala. Here, I should mention that the Medial Prefrontal Cortex is in charge of regulating the activity of the Amygdala.
Production of Astrocytes
By now, we should all agree that we work less when tired. But, have you stopped to ask yourself how those five hours of sleep are affecting your work productivity? Earlier this year, I read an Italian study which concluded that such lack of enough sleep could cause your brain cells to eat some parts of your brain’s synapses.
These are merely star-shaped brain cells, commonly referred to as Astrocytes. One of their primary jobs is to clear all worn-out cells. So, the study went further to show that these cells are produced in large numbers once we deny ourselves enough rest.
Struggling To Retain New Pieces of Information
Another section of the brain that is severely affected by lack of enough sleep is the Hippocampus. I was shocked to find out that all it takes is one lousy sleep to damage your hippocampus. But what is it? Well, it’s the region that helps to store new memories. So, if you’re struggling to keep up with information during the day, it’s simply because you’ve destroyed this crucial part of the brain!
Tense and Sore Muscles Once You Wake Up
While we sleep, the body is continually trying to heal sore muscles and repair worn out tissues. However, for it to properly do this, you’ll need to give it enough time. That is why experts recommend 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Once you fail to do so, the only result is that you’ll wake up with tense muscles, back aches and pains.