Sleep, some complain that they can barely get enough of it while others are accused of getting way too much. The debate around sleep and its relationship to productivity are an old one. Even calling it a debate is a little bit of a misnomer since many people will heartily agree that night owls are hard workers while their counterparts who sleep more are lazy. So prevalent is the notion that barely getting any sleep is the hallmark of the hard worker that many of us are proud of ourselves and will happily brag whenever we develop the habit of sleeping later and/or waking up earlier than our peers.
All of us have the same 24 hours in a day and it sounds somewhat reasonable to suppose that those who spend more of that time sleeping will have less available to do anything else. So is sleep something which we must try to limit at all costs so that we can spend more time achieving our goals or it is an unavoidable and natural necessity which we must embrace? More importantly, how does the amount of sleep you get relate to your productivity and will you achieve more in life if you sleepless?
Signs you are not getting enough
Yes, as your body will try to inform you when you have been awake for a while, sleep is necessary. While science doesn’t yet have a straightforward answer on why people or animals need to sleep, most of us are familiar with some of the effects of lack or too little sleep. You may be proud of how much less sleep you are getting compared to your colleagues and friends but if any of the following apply to you, you might need to reconsider some of your opinions:
You don’t hear alarms
One of the surest signs that you are getting way too little sleep than your body requires is regularly sleeping through alarms. Here I don’t mean you cancelling or even pressing snooze on your alarm clock but rather your completely failing to hear its ringing until it stops.
Your eyes feel gritty
If you wake up feeling like there is some sand in your eyes and this feeling lasts for more than 15 minutes after waking up then there is a good chance that you woke up earlier than your body wanted you to. Shortage of sleep causes dryness in eyes which manifests itself as a gritty feeling in them.
You are drowsy during the day
You can say all you want about the virtues of sleeping less but drowsiness during your working hours is not going to improve your productivity in any way. Unless it’s very hot or sometime around lunchtime, feeling sleepy throughout the day should not be normal.
You doze off early in the evening
If you are having trouble sitting in front of the TV early in the evening (before 8 pm)and viewing a few minutes of your favourite soapy or the news without falling asleep then you need to adjust your sleeping and waking hours.
You are over-dependent on caffeine
Energy drinks, coffee and tea are all sources of caffeine which many people use to increase their alertness levels but are also used by people who want to keep sleep at bay. If you find yourself depending heavily on these to get you through the day you should consider increasing the amount of sleep you are getting instead.
Signs that you may be getting too much
In the same way that one can get too little sleep, it is also possible to get too much. Here is how you know that you fit into this bracket.
You are wide awake before the sun is up
If you often find yourself wide awake and fully refreshed in your bed before the sun is even up then your bedtime is probably way too early.
You are having trouble falling asleep (except for insomniacs)
I must first mention that insomnia is a real condition and people who are having trouble getting any sleep no matter how tired they are should see a professional. If you are sure that you are not an insomniac and yet find falling asleep to be a challenge then your choice of bedtime may be way too early.
Your body aches from sleeping
If you have to wake up because your body is aching from lying on your bed then you have spent way too much time on it.
Signs that you may be doing it just right
Here are two indicators that you are getting the right amount of sleep.
You wake up (without an alarm) at the same time every day
The human body has an internal clock which you can adjust and reinforce through habits. For instance, if you usually wake up every day at 6 am with the help of an alarm then sooner or later you will stop needing that alarm (as long as you set and maintain your bedtime).
You are friendly in the morning
One of the effects of sleep deprivation is irritability. This means that people who are not getting enough sleep are usually uncharacteristically unfriendly during the morning. If you are friendly and chatty in the morning, then you are probably getting enough refresh from your sleep.
The bottom line
Adults typically sleep between 6 and 9 hours per night and it must be emphasized that the amount of sleep required varies widely from person to person. This amount depends on several factors which include age and weight. In many cases sleeping late (for instance, because of an emergency or a deadline) is usually compensated for by waking up late, sleeping during the day or sleeping earlier the following night. The bottom line is that while you don’t do much while sleeping, not getting an adequate amount of sleep will negatively affect how well you perform at tasks during your working hours.