Sleep: The Foundation to Productivity, Fun, and Habits
I want to share my realizations on sleep and productivity. I walk through my thoughts and techniques to get more productivity from sleep.
You will learn the importance of sleep on productivity and my tips on getting better sleep. This article will take you about four minutes to read.
Work. Play. Sleep. Pick two. Did I mention one of them must be sleep?
No matter how productive or how much fun you want to be during the day, sleep is the foundation to both of these.
When I am sleep deficient:
- I have a harder time focusing on the task at hand.
- I am more “emotional”, I just respond from my gut without stepping back to think through the best response.
- I don’t feel “sharp” or on top of the situation, always reacting instead of being proactive.
This applies whether I am working or trying to have fun. Imagine, to have more fun, you have to sleep more. Insane, right?
Another aspect where sleep helps: building new habits. I learned the connection of sleep and habits from Atomic Habits.
Importance of Sleep
It’s an activity everybody does for about 33% of their time. That’s a lot of time!
I have been thinking of how to sleep better and did experiments.
To start sleeping better, having good sleep habits is essential. To help build the habit, you need sleep; to sleep better, you need habits.
Instead of just “jumping in” with habits, I will share what I learned in getting to better sleep habits. The things I learned to improve my sleep:
- Limit caffeine way before you want to sleep
- Figure out what you need done before sleeping
- Have a bed-time routine
- Wake up at a consistent time
When one doesn’t have enough sleep or want to stay awake longer, caffeine is the goto tool of choice. It’s readily available and effective.
I have caffeine in the morning as part of my routine, to help me wake up more.
Caffeine affects sleep and the general rule I apply is to stop caffeine intake 12 hours before I want to sleep.
The main reason for this is the half-life of caffeine in the body. I want the caffeine to do it’s job in the morning, not at night.
Basically, as soon as I wake up, I’m already thinking of how to get ready to sleep again.
Before Sleep To Do
Each night, there’s a certain set of things I want to have done around me. Regardless of how unproductive the day was, I want my environment to be a certain state.
For me, my list is:
- Is the house in reasonable order?
- Is the kitchen clean and ready for the morning?
- Is my whiteboard clean?
Just like with caffeine, before going to bed, I am thinking about waking up the next morning. How to make waking up smoother?
It’s a cycle: to sleep better, make waking up easier; to wake up better, make sleeping easier.
What is on your list of things that will help you wake up easier? What are things that will help you put “today away” so you won’t have those items on your mind all night?
One thing I have started doing is having a category of activities that I must do in a specific sequence. I do these so regularly that I timed them to know how long each step will take. There’s a preferred order to execute them so I chain each action with the next.
The big difference with this list and the previous items are the start of a larger sequence where the end result is to goto bed.
- hydrate - drink about 10 oz of water
- brush teeth
- floss teeth
- wash glasses
- lip balm
- mouth guard
- put on pajamas
- write three things I appreciated about today
- turn off lights
- moisturize hands and feet
- read light fiction/sci-fi/comics for 10 minutes
Whew - sixteen steps in sequence!
When Things Change
Sometimes, things don’t always go smoothly. I am more restless than usual. Something is on my mind.
- When I didn’t sleep well the night before, I would start sleep routine earlier in the night.
- When I’m going to bed later than normal, I would jump to my sleep sequence to make up for any time.
I would use a sleep aid to guarantee I get sleep in either cases. Tiredness does not guarantee quality sleep. When going to be late already, if I can’t get to bed right away, it’s even more lost sleep time.
One thing I do consistently no matter how I sleep is wake up at a consistent time. As much as I want to sleep in, waking up consistently is just as important going to bed consistently.
No matter time I sleep, I am up at the same time. I believe it’s harder to set your wake up time than to set your sleep time.
In this way, the wake time determines your bed time. Your sleep routine sets what time you need start getting ready to goto bed. You are always thinking about what to do next for sleeping or waking.
By waking up at the same time, a sequence of activities that put me in bed, having a list of things I want to “get done” before bed, and limiting my caffeine intake 12 hours before going to bed, it helps me get to sleep.
Whenever I have lower levels of sleep than usual, I am less productive, I can’t enjoy fun things, and I have mental fogginess.
By having a regular habit of sleep, I am productive, can enjoy having fun, and build new habits.