It feels good to get things done. Being productive puts you into a positive frame of mind, and when you’re feeling good, you are likely to enjoy an enhanced sense of well-being. But what if you’re chronically tired, feeling run down, and wondering how to get off the merry-go-round of constant overwhelm? Here are five foolproof ways to hack sleep and productivity:
1. De-stress as much as possible
Stress, sleep, and productivity are inextricably linked. When you’re overly stressed, it can be very difficult to sleep soundly and wake up feeling productive. Sleep deprivation adds to your stress, you find yourself feeling less and less like getting things done, and all of a sudden, everything snowballs.
One of the easiest ways to beat stress quickly is to breathe slowly, inhaling through your nose, exhaling through your mouth, and repeating the process five to ten times. Listening to your favorite music can also be a great way to de-stress. Music can also be great for productivity. You can also try:
- Chatting with a friend
- Cuddling with a pet or a loved one
- Spending some time on a fun, creative project
- Taking a warm bath or shower
These are just a few good ways to get your endorphins flowing and feel a little bit better about your situation. If you suffer with chronic stress and anxiety, you may want to chat with a therapist who can help you sort things out on a deeper level.
2. Treat your brain to some downtime every day.
Wait…aren’t we focusing on productivity here? The truth is that our brains need downtime while we are awake. If you want to be productive, creative, and connected, and if you’re interested in maximizing your ability to problem-solve, take a break from the constant input that accompanies our busy lives and let your mind just wander.
3. Take action steps toward sleeping well!
Sometimes we have a tendency to view sleep as a luxury. The truth is that quality sleep is a necessity: Our bodies and minds need good sleep for productivity and overall wellness. Good quality sleep can even help improve neuroplasticity!
Going to sleep can seem like a monumental task when your mind is racing or you’re worried about what the next day holds. Here are a few mini-hacks to help you drift off to dreamland with ease:
- Set your thermostat to 62-67 degrees Fahrenheit so you sleep more deeply.
- Wondering how often should you replace your mattress? Well, if your current mattress or pillows are causing you discomfort or aches and pains that’s a tell-tale sign, (the new Nectar mattress comes highly rated).
- Skip caffeine in the afternoon.
- Avoid alcohol before bed.
- Avoid blue light from electronic screens for about an hour before bed; extra points if you can avoid screen time for a full two hours before bedtime.
- Try mindfulness apps for sleep and more.
- Give gentle herbal supplements a try. Valerian, hops, and chamomile are three of the best. Try a nice bedtime tea if you aren’t a fan of tablets or capsules. Unlike sleeping pills, mild herbs help you feel drowsy at bedtime but don’t normally lead to a.m. grogginess.
4. Exercise during the first half of the day.
You probably know that exercise is a vital component in overall wellness. What many people haven’t yet learned is that exercise helps you sleep better so you can wake up and get more things done. And, when you exercise regularly, you feel better overall. You have a better sense of control over your life in general, plus you produce more endorphins so suddenly, you feel fantastic and your productivity skyrockets.
It doesn’t take much. Try exercising for about 20 minutes five times per week and see how you feel. If it’s been a while, don’t worry. You can enjoy better sleep and tons of other exercise benefits by doing simple things like running in the morning, swimming, or even doing simple yoga.
Since exercise energizes the body and mind, it’s best to enjoy your sessions during the first half of the day. If you need to exercise in the evening, try to get it out of the way before dinner so you have a few hours to wind down before bed.
5. Create a to-do list at the end of each day
There are dozens of factors that contribute to how well you sleep, as well as loads of productivity hacks. This one manages to cover both sleep and productivity. Michael Scullin, director of the Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory at Baylor University, conducted a study in which he had 57 students write either a to-do list or a list of accomplishments a few minutes before bedtime. The students who wrote to-do lists fell asleep faster and had a list all ready to start the next day off on the right foot.
If you try this sleep and productivity hack, consider writing just a few of the most important items down. Things that usually cause you to lie awake ruminating are good candidates for the list. Check them off as you accomplish them the following day to treat your brain to a little dose of dopamine, and repeat the process nightly for best results.
You might have noticed a common thread that runs throughout these five simple hacks: Sleep! Sleep is the key to productivity, even though it has nothing to do with getting more organized, motivating yourself, or getting rid of distractions that eat up your time. When you sleep, you clean your brain’s “cache” and solidify important memories. Your attention span and creativity go into overdrive when you’re well-rested, too. So try these hacks and get some sleep. You’ll thank yourself in the morning!