If you catch yourself yawning at your desk or you struggle to get through the day after a night tossing and turning, you aren’t alone.
According to 2016 study from the CDC, one in three American adults don’t get enough sleep. If you’re exhausted, you’re not going to be able to function and focus the way you need to in the pursuit of your day-to-day goals. So what can you do to rest easier?
Christopher Lindholst is the co-founder and CEO of Metronaps, a 14-year-old company with a mission of helping combat fatigue at work. Its flagship product is the EnergyPod, a napping station that wouldn’t look out of place on The Jetsons that can be found in locations as varied as JFK Airport in New York City and the University of Miami.
Lindholst, who says that most of us should plan to get about seven and half hours of shut eye per night, offered up his best tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
Lindholst explains that sleep isn’t something that is static, but rather something that happens in roughly 90-minute long cycles.
“What that knowledge allows you to do is essentially program your sleep so you’re effectively sleeping in these 90-minute increments,” he says. “You can plan backwards from when you know you need to get up in the morning.”
You may not be able to do this right away, but Lindholst says that if you wake up before your alarm goes off, you’re better off starting the day rather than trying to desperately hold onto those last few minutes.
“We look at the alarm clock and say, ‘oh I got another 20 minutes to go,’ so you put your head back down,” he says. “And then the alarm clock goes off and you feel worse than than you did 20 minutes ago. So really, what you should do is get up when you naturally wake up.”
The drowsy feeling we get around 1 to 3 in the afternoon that we often try to avoid with caffeine or sugar is a natural part of our 24-hour sleep cycle, so we might as well embrace it and incorporate naps into the work day, Lindholst says.
“A 10- to 20-minute nap is really all that your brain and body require in order for you to bounce back,” he says. “If you were to take a 45-minute nap, you’re going to catch yourself right in the deeper stages of sleep when your alarm goes off and you’re actually going to feel pretty wiped out for a while. Those shorter naps allow you to stay in the lighter stages of sleep and that makes it easier to get right back to work and do whatever you need to do.”
There is no way you can be productive without enough sleep, because rest actually helps you deal with and clear out the clutter in your mind as well as strengthen your memory.
“It’s so important because the brain actually kind of cleans itself when you’re sleeping,” Lindholst says. “Our brains are really good at solving problems when we sleep. You’re in a much better position to make important decisions when you’re well rested.”
If you want your workplace to have a culture that values sleep and wellness, it starts at the top. It can be something as simple as asking your employees if they got enough sleep the night before, or urging everyone to get enough rest before a big meeting.
“Some companies have started implementing policies where they essentially have no email after 10 p.m.,” Lindholst says. “You’re helping people understand that they’re not expected to respond to emails at 2 a.m.”
Another way, of course, to prevent late-night emailing is to put your devices in another room altogether.