How Sleep Affects Your Health and Performance

How Sleep Affects Your Health and Performance

Sleep, rest, relaxation. All words with one similar meaning: Giving your body a chance to reset. It’s also one thing we can’t get enough of in our busy lives. In fact, sleep is often the first thing we give up when we’re busy with work, school, and parenting responsibilities. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult, age 25-64, needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night. But are you aware of how sleep, or lack thereof, affects your health and work performance?

Physical health

Sleep is important for healthy immune function, digestion, and even appetite. Adults who sleep the recommended 7-9 hours each night have better body temperature regulation, experience fewer unhealthy cravings and food binges, and generally have better digestive health. A healthy amount of sleep also contributes to better immune function, making you less susceptible to illnesses, like the common cold. In fact, according to one study, people who averaged less than seven hours of sleep per night were three times more likely to catch a cold!


While healthy adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night, most only get about six and a half hours. Thirty extra minutes of sleep doesn’t seem like a huge difference—but it makes an impact on your performance at work. According to a study by the Hult International Business School, respondents who didn’t get enough sleep admitted to:

  • Struggling to stay focused in meetings
  • Taking longer to complete tasks
  • Finding it challenging to be creative

The cumulative effect of a sleep deficit is contributing to less productivity in the workforce. Because we are less productive during the day, we often bring work home with us creating a more vicious cycle of later bed times and less focus during the day.

Sleep tips

Now that you understand how sleep affects your physical health and performance at work, how do you solve the problem? These sleep tips will help you get a better and more restful night’s sleep:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule and keep that schedule on the weekends. This helps your body regulate your internal clock so sleeping becomes easier.
  2. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing routine that doesn’t involve bright lights, excitement, or stress relaxes your body to prepare it for sleep. Try reading a book or drinking a cup of tea.
  3. Exercise daily. Exercise helps your body sleep (and helps your immune system stay strong). Try to fit in some type of exercise each day.
  4. Evaluate your room. Sometimes we can’t sleep because we are too hot, too cold, or something is making a distracting noise. Make sure your bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees, and free from light and noises.

If you still can’t sleep, talk to your doctor. Many health factors and conditions can contribute to not sleeping well and should be checked into.

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