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Many people believe that by working harder, they are more productive.
However, according to scientific researches, this notion is nothing more than hogwash. Among the first productivity researches that were conducted in the 1880s at the Carl Zeiss labs. The studies indicated that humans produce at their prime when they work for 40 hours a week.
Extending work time beyond 40 weeks makes us become less able to produce cost-effective and reliable work.
The explanation for this is pretty simple: we tend to make more mistakes when we become tired. Therefore, any extra hours that we put in the work are actually spent undoing the errors that we made. In industries, such as software coding, correcting mistakes can take a lot of time. The same also applies to manufacturing industries where the more units produced means more wastes and flaws.
While the data about productivity might seem pretty clear, humans have not found this message easily acceptable. It makes a lot of sense to imagine that 2 units of work produce two times the output. While it may seem logical, it is outright wrong.
Work is measured not by input but by output. In other words, the amount of time that your team puts into work does not matter. What matters is quality as well as the quantity of work produced.
How sleep increases your productivity
This is exactly where the importance of sleep is seen.
While we might want to think that we can achieve more working overnight, the statistics are against us. By just losing one night’s sleep, your cognitive capacity reduces to the level of a drunk person. This does not stop us from hailing as heroes workers who burn the midnight oil working. There is no difference between that person and a drunk one.
What makes sleep so important is the fact that fatigue isn’t simple. Put in another way, our performance does not degrade equally when we are tired. What happens is that, by losing one night’s sleep, parietal as well as occipital lobes tend to become less active.
The importance of the parietal lobe is that it is tasked with integrating information from the senses. Also, it is the parietal lobe that enables us master numbers as well as manipulation of objects. On the other hand, the occipital lobe helps in visual processing.
What this means is that the sections of our brains responsible for deciphering the data and the world around us begin to slow down. The explanation for this is that the brain prioritizes the thalamus. This is the brain part that makes you stay awake.
How sleep deprivation affects your productivity
When you are deprived of sleep for 24 hours, the glucose that reaches the brain reduces by 6 percent.
This explains why you tend to crave candy and donuts after losing sleep. Worse, this loss is not uniformly shared by the parietal and occipital lobes. The parietal lobe as well as the prefrontal cortex will lose between 12 and 14 % of their glucose.
Remember that these are the sections that we need most for thinking. They help us distinguish between ideas; distinguish between good and bad and for social control.
More sleep increases your workday productivity
According to a study conducted by the BBC and which sought to examine the effect of sleep patterns on volunteers underlined what most of us know already- sleeping more leads to healthy bodies and brains.
Nevertheless, it does not hurt to remind you that the recommended 8 hours of sleep is not just arbitrarily picked. In many crucial ways, adequate sleep is important in making us more productive.
When you get to work after a good rest, you tend to be more productive. However, unbeknownst to many, the positive impacts of ample sleep are much more than just that. If you realize that you are forgetting important details of late, it could be that your sleep schedule is the culprit.
Deep sleep might sound restful, however, during sleep, our brains continue to work hard. Among the main things that the brain does is to transfer memories from the short-term storage to the long-term storage.
This frees the memory and allows you more space for the following day. Failure to getting deep sleep may mean that these memories are lost. By giving yourself enough time to get into a deep sleep, you will realize that the bits of information that tend to escape you will remain in your mind for much longer.
The study also reported that sleep is important in reducing stress levels.
“When we are asleep in this world, we are awake in another.” – Salvador Dali
Effects of taking short naps during the day
The National Sleep Foundation reports that grabbing 20-30 minutes of sleep every day helps to improve your alertness, mood, and performance. Note that this will not affect your nighttime sleep. In fact, according to the study, taking a short nap of 20 minutes is way better than a bout of exercise or 200mg of caffeine.
Even many of the greatest thinkers that the world has witnessed, like Winston Churchill, Napoleon Bonaparte, and J.F. Kennedy were regular nappers.
Apparently, it helped them.
According to Sarah Mednick, an assistant professor at the University of California working in the Department of Psychology, and who authored “Take a Nap!
Change Your Life,” failing to catch an afternoon nap makes a person unable to perform at their best levels in the course of the day. Tired drivers are advised to take afternoon naps because of the danger they face on the road.
Also, sleep experts recommend that if you are driving and you feel drowsy, you need to immediately stop at a rest area, take a caffeinated beverage and sleep for 15-30 minutes. After that, you will be safe on the road.
There are other benefits to taking a nap, and these include boosting your creativity, enhancing your libido, making you appear younger, encouraging weight loss, and on top of everything else, improving your productivity. Therefore, next time you see someone napping in the afternoon do not think of them as being lazy and unambitious. Instead, think of him/her as a smart worker who understands that they need a break to be at their best. Be like them.