Tossing and turning all night, ruminating about tomorrow’s big presentation? Running your mind over and over again about how to complete your deadlines on time? Sometimes, it’s hard to shut off your mind to fall asleep, and coupled with bad sleeping habits, it can become nearly impossible.
Getting less sleep and inefficiency in the workplace go hand-in-hand. If you want to continue to be an executive at the top of your game, you’ll need to kiss your bad sleeping habits goodbye.
A proven link exists that shows a lack of a good night’s sleep creates unproductivity in the workplace. You can read more about sleep deprivation effects on workplace performance, and keep reading here to stop those bad sleeping habits that are doing you in so you can fall asleep.
Bad Sleeping Habits to Avoid
Along with stress, there are some things you’re likely doing that are preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. Read on to find out what they are so you can begin to form good sleeping habits and bring your A-game to work every day.
1. Exposure to Blue Light at Night
Burning the midnight oil isn’t helping, especially if you’re on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone until you go to bed. Blue light which you’re exposed to with your electronic devices keeps your brain alert. It takes your brain a few hours to wind down from that.
You should keep away from your electronic gadgets two to three hours before lights out to get a good night’s sleep.
Harvard conducted a study that compared the effects of how 6.5 hours of blue light exposure versus green light exposure at the same brightness boded for participants. It showed that blue light suppressed melatonin two times longer than green light.
2. Watching Late-Night Television (Especially in Bed)
Another big blue light emitter is your television. If you want to fall asleep, you’ll have to break this bad sleeping habit fast. When you watch TV in bed late at night, it has the opposite effect you desire. Instead of making you sleepy, it energizes you.
With a TV in the bedroom, you will ruin your sex life too. That’s more reason to save TV time for earlier in the evening when you’re still in your living room.
3. Using Your Phone as Your Wake-up Device
Many people rely on their smartphones to wake them in the morning. And thus, the cycle of being tethered to our phones continues from the moment we rise. Likely though before bed, you’re probably checking to make sure your alarm is set, and then scrolling through messages and emails. Before you even realize it, you’ve spent another 10 to 20 minutes idly playing with your phone.
Just shut it off and use an alarm clock. Worried about a random power outage that would cause you to miss getting up on time? Invest in one that has a battery backup.
When you stop relying on your phone to wake you, you’ll have an easier time turning it off and tuning into a good night’s sleep.
4. Setting Your Alarm Clock Close to Your Bed
After getting that alarm clock set up, the next bad sleeping habit you likely have is keeping it right next to your bed. If you wake in the middle of the night and can’t fall asleep, having the clock right there can be a distraction. Likely when you wake, you may look at the time. You’ll shut your eyes and try to sleep, toss and turn, and then look at the time again.
Counting down how many hours you have left before you get up only creates more anxiety and makes it that much more difficult to fall back asleep.
Plus, having it too close can make it too easy for you to hit the snooze button when you need to get up and conquer your workday on time.
If you have trouble falling asleep or falling back asleep if you’ve woken up in the middle of the night due to stress, we can help you.
5. Working Before Bedtime
Some people take work home with them because they think they’ll get a jump on the next day. Let it wait. A good night’s sleep is more important because it allows you to refresh your mind and clear the stress away. You’ll be a better executive for it.
When you take work home and plug away at it until you turn out the lights, falling asleep becomes next to impossible because all those worries from your day coupled with that blue light will keep you up all night.
6. Working in Bed
Even worse than working before bedtime is working in your bed! Your brain gets the message that the bedroom is a place for work rather than sleep. If you’ve done it once, no need to fret, but don’t do it ever again. The more you keep up this bad sleeping habit, the more your brain forms this association, making it more focused and alert when presented with these stimulus and keeping you awake.
Your bedroom should be the place you reserve for relaxation and sleep.
If you have kept up this bad sleeping habit, retrain your brain by turning your bedroom into a center of calm. Don’t make lists for work or schedule your day out in bed either. Put everything work-related away and focus on yourself so you can fall asleep.
In time, you’ll find this makes you much more productive when you’re at the office.
7. Taking Long Naps During the Day
The lifestyle of an executive is certainly exhausting. Naps are a fantastic way to restore and replenish in the middle of the day. Research shows they benefit executives and result in greater productivity.
This doesn’t mean you can go to sleep for an hour or more though.
The ideal time-frame for your afternoon nap should be no more than 20 minutes.
To sleep any longer puts you in a deeper state which is harder to wake from and harder to get back into gear from too. Long naps will disrupt your sleep pattern at night too, so make sure to keep that nap short.
8. Keeping Odd Sleeping Hours Due to Your Job
Sleep routines aren’t just for small children. Hard-working executives need them too in order to get a good night’s sleep. If you attend a dinner meeting on Monday night and don’t get to bed until midnight, then go to bed at 9 pm on Tuesday, 11 pm on Wednesday, and then at 2 am on Thursday while preparing for a trip, you’re disrupting your sleep pattern, making it hard for you to fall asleep.
Surely some exceptions can’t be avoided such as travel times that must be accommodated. For everything else though, stick to getting in bed at the same time every night, so you get a good night’s sleep.
9. Sleeping Late on the Weekends
Some executives are fastidious about going to sleep at the same hour every day of the work week. And then on the weekends, they stay up late, perhaps going out to grab drinks with friends until 2 am on a Saturday night. Doing this can result in a condition known as social jetlag. This video on social jet lag will help you understand how you’re doing more harm than good.
Going to bed late on the weekends constantly resets your body’s clock to a different cycle. It’s basically like having jet lag every single Monday morning when you get up for work and is a bad sleeping habit you need to get rid of fast to fall asleep.
10. Taking Stimulants Before Bedtime
Whether you love coffee, chocolate, or are a regular smoker, taking in stimulants in these forms, especially 6 hours before bedtime (yes, 6 hours!), can keep you up at night and prevent that good night’s sleep.
A prominent study showed that caffeine takes up to 6 hours to wear off, a serious impediment to falling asleep.
Nicotine also causes sleep disturbances, particularly with sleep-related respiratory disorders. As chocolate also contains caffeine, it can keep you up at night, so stay away from your hidden chocolate stash!
11. Drink Alcohol Before Bedtime
The National Institute of Health found that drinking alcohol just prior to bedtime decreases how much time you spend in REM sleep. REM is that stage of deep and restorative phase that you need for a good night’s sleep. It’s the stage you want to avoid during that short afternoon nap, but the one you need at night.
Avoid drinking or at least limit it significantly during your company’s off-site events, sales meetings, or dinners with clients.
Reach out for non-alcoholic alternatives instead.
12. Being Uncomfortable in Bed
For executives, it’s tempting after a long day at the office followed by even longer dinner meetings to just climb right into bed without changing your clothes or removing makeup.
Take the few extra minutes to properly ready yourself for bed. Put on sleeping attire. Wash your face and moisturize it. Brush your teeth. And if you wear contacts, take them out, or you may increase your chances of waking up with an eye infection.
13. Having a Sedentary Lifestyle
According to Rodney Dishman, a researcher at the University of Georgia, “Staying active won’t cure your sleep complaints, but it will reduce the odds of them.” His research showed that adding exercise during the day adds 45 minutes of extra sleep each night.
Other studies show that it’s not just the duration of sleep time either. It also makes for better quality sleep.
14. Intense Workouts Late in the Evening
With that exercise though, it’s important to get it into your day early on.
If you want a good night’s sleep, that exercise shouldn’t be performed too late in the day, or it will interfere with your sleep.
That’s because it speeds up your metabolism. Studies confirm this stimulatory effect from exercise. It also makes you more alert and releases adrenaline. Hit the gym or the jogging trail early to avoid being kept awake.
15. Staying All Day in the Office Without Experiencing Daylight
You might think it’s healthy to avoid the sun, but your body needs daily sun exposure in a protected way. Getting in the habit of wearing sunscreen protects from dangerous UVA and UVB rays. When you stay long hours in the office and don’t get enough sun exposure, it can ruin your chance of getting a good night’s sleep. ç
Bad sleeping habits like this were exposed in a new study that found low amounts of daylight exposure for executives led to poor sleep, activity, and overall quality of life.
Get out there in the sun for a little bit, or put a therapy lamp in your office.
Light exposure in the workplace improves your sleep and vitality which will, in turn, improve your work performance.
16. Eating Unhealthy Food or Large Meals at Night
Good nutrition is always important for your best health. It can also affect your ability to have a good night’s sleep.
One of those bad sleeping habits you might have is eating large, heavy meals before bed. If you’re eating lots of refined carbs before bed and your meals are more like big feasts, you should change your eating habits.
Ideally, you should eat dinner earlier. Avoid eating 2 to 3 hours before you go to sleep.
Large meals before bed kick your metabolism into gear, and that affects your ability to fall asleep and stay that way. Plus, it’s uncomfortable to lie down with a full belly. Late-night eating not only impedes the release of melatonin and HGH but studies additionally showed it causes problems with obesity that will lead to other health issues.
17. Trying to Force Sleep
If you can’t fall asleep, don’t stay in bed staring at the ceiling.
If you can’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, get out of bed and try something relaxing.
In dimmed lighting, sit in another room and read a book unrelated to work. Listen to relaxing music or try a yoga sequence for sleep. After a relaxing activity, get back to bed, and it should be much easier to get a good night’s sleep.
Discover more sleeping tips to help you fall asleep fast.
18. Having Too Warm of a Bedroom
Your body sleeps better at colder temperatures. Ideally, the best setting is anywhere from 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, open your window before bedtime to let some fresh, cold air in or blast the air conditioning, so your bedroom is cold when you sleep.
What’s your trick for getting a good night’s sleep? Tell us in the comments!