Habit Hacking: 5 Ways Your Work and Sleep Habits Affect Each Other
Many people are thrilled with the flexible office solutions that have arisen from the pandemic, with more companies now open to people working from home, from their local library, or perhaps even from a beachfront resort in Thailand. However, with great flexibility comes great responsibility, and those who fail to take a responsible approach to work may find that their health – specifically, their sleep – suffers.
When your sleep suffers, this can cycle back into your performance at work, creating an unhealthy cycle of habits that push you into uncomfortable territory. Thankfully, the opposite is also true – if you dial in your sleep and work habits, they will have a compounding effect, leading to benefits in both arenas.
How exactly does all this work? Let’s dive in and find out!
Poor sleep sets you back on multiple metrics
If you’re getting poor sleep compared to your colleagues, you can expect to be outperformed on everything from productivity to career progression and job satisfaction. You’re also at greater risk of experiencing workplace accidents and engaging in counterproductive behavior at work.
Poor sleep reduces your capacity for self-control
Though hustle culture influencers like Gary Vee may glorify the concept of minimizing sleep in favor of working yourself into the ground, it should come as a surprise to no one that this approach to life is incredibly unhealthy. One of the many things that will suffer if you take this approach is your self-control.
Numerous scientific studies have found that sleep deprivation depletes the psychological resources needed to exercise self-control. This can leave you unable to engage in deep focus or tackle complex tasks at work.
Lack of boundaries around work can reduce your sleep quality
If you work late into the night or check emails a few minutes after waking, then you’re undoubtedly reducing the restorative power of sleep. You may have no choice but to work late at night. However, you can use a blue light filter to reduce the negative impact of your computer’s bright screen on your sleep. Early risers can practice good sleep hygiene by avoiding screens first thing after waking and instead heading outside to catch some early morning rays.
Work stress corrodes sleep quality
Even if you sort out the physical boundaries around work time, personal time, and sleep time, stress and anxiety won’t always respect the lines you draw. You can lock your office door for the night, but if you haven’t adequately addressed the elements of your job that stress you out, the emotions will follow you home and potentially disrupt your sleep. For this reason, it’s crucial to engage in habits like journaling and talk therapy.
Sugary snacks and caffeine can destroy your sleep quality
If you work a high-pressure job and use sugar and caffeine to make it through the day, you could be disabling your ability to get quality sleep. This is particularly true if you consume caffeine in the afternoon, as this stimulant drug takes anywhere from 10 to 24 hours to leave your system.
As for sugar, numerous studies have found that those who consume larger amounts of sugar throughout the day tend to experience more sleep disturbances. Worse still, sleep disturbances tend to trigger more sugar cravings, meaning you can end up in an incredibly unhealthy cycle that keeps feeding on itself and eroding your ability to sleep and work effectively.
Now that you have a better understanding of how your sleep and work habits affect each other, you’re well-placed to maximize both.