The modern lifestyle brings stress and pressure, causing people to lose sleep at night. Insomnia can be due to many factors. A research study found that our work can also play into our sleeplessness.
The American Sleep Association reports that one in three people struggles with sleep disorders at some point in their lives. Long-term poor sleep can lead to serious consequences. Sleep deprivation has been linked to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, as well as other health problems. It can also harm an individual’s alertness and cognitive abilities.
Many factors come into play that can impact our sleep quality, such as rage and mood swings. But there is a culprit that we might often overlook: our jobs.
Dr. Rachel Salas, a sleep specialist and assistant medical director at Johns Hopkins Sleep and Wellness Center, told CNBC’s program, Make It, “What you do during the day and at work affects your sleep at night and how well you wake up the next morning.”
Dr. Ilene Rosen, an associate professor of medicine for sleep study at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, says sleep deprivation in turn can affect your work performance, making you irritable and unproductive.
Here is a summary of how our work can ruin our sleep quality based on experts’ opinions, and how you can wake up feeling happier and more energized:
Not Consuming Caffeine After 4 pm
Prof. Phyllis Zee, director of sleep medicine and professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says caffeine stimulates the body’s central nervous system, which keeps you awake and alert. The effect can last more than four hours, making it harder to relax before bedtime.
To get better sleep at night, experts recommend that office workers stop consuming caffeine sometime between noon and 4:00 p.m.
Perhaps during the day, you enjoy a cup of Joe or a cup of tea to keep you awake during meetings and projects. However, that will probably cost you in the evening.
If you are prone to caffeine sensitivity, Dr. Salas, a sleep specialist recommends stopping daily caffeine intake sometime between noon and 4:00 p.m. every day. You may replace your beverage with soda water, fruit juice, or other caffeine-free drinks. Even better, you can replace your coffee with a quick stroll outside.
Occasionally, working overtime is inevitable, but prolonged working hours also mean less time for workouts. You might leave your gym sessions until much later at night.
But Rosen, a sleep researcher and associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, says exercising after dark can disrupt your sleep.
She explains, “Cardiovascular exercise raises the core body temperature for about an hour or two, interrupting the body’s natural process of cooling down. The cooling process helps us fall asleep.” Rosen suggests avoiding exercise within three hours before bedtime. Dr. Salas adds that the same rule applies to dinner time. “Eating a large meal or consuming alcohol will affect sleep quality.”
She also explains that eating before bed causes indigestion and acid reflux. Although alcohol might have a sedative effect initially, during the metabolic process, it stimulates our cerebrum which affects deep sleep. That’s probably why your head feels heavy and murky after a night of drinking.
Rosen says working long hours also makes you inclined to forgo some of your bedtime habits. “Whether it is taking a hot bath or catching up on your favorite book, these habits are vital. They signal to your brain that it is time to go to sleep and help you fall asleep faster.”
Rosen also adds that you should leave your HITT (high-intensity exercise) until the next morning or afternoon if you want to sleep well after working overtime in the office.
“You should also take some time to relax, and have dinner two hours before bedtime.”
Catching up on Sleep at Weekends
Some office workers believe that catching up on sleep during weekends can help them recover from sleep deprivation during the week. Salas says, “You will never be able to catch up.”
Rosen believes that having a consistent sleep schedule can be challenging in hectic lifestyles, but the more regular you make it, the better your sleep quality.
She recommends that everyone should aim for an 8-hour sleep schedule daily and work on regulating the body clock.
“Sleep is a human’s basic need. Health risks arise when we don’t sleep enough. It affects our memory, cognition, and digestion.” Rosen reiterates.
When you improve your sleep quality, not only your anxiety will diminish, but your productivity and concentration will also get a real boost.