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Why you’re not prioritizing sleep even when it’s hurting your productivity

Your barriers to getting a good night’s sleep are real. But there are many solutions to change this.

Why you’re not prioritizing sleep even when it’s hurting your productivity
[Photo: OcusFocus/iStock]

Not getting enough sleep at night? You’re not alone. According to research by the Harvard Business Review, 43% of business leaders don’t get enough sleep at least four nights a week. Yes, you read that right–for the majority of the workweek, you’re probably working with someone who’s running on fumes, metaphorically speaking.

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And it’s much more than a few extra yawns throughout the workday. The lack of consistent, quality sleep has a significant impact: Rand study data shows that in the U.S., sleep deprivation causes more than $400 billion in financial losses each year and results in 1.23 million days of work lost.

Americans are still not prioritizing sleep–even when it’s hurting their productivity and bottom lines. They have plenty of excuses for it–from poor boundaries around screen time to non-conducive sleep setups. The good news is, with a few tweaks to your bedtime routine and with the help of modern sleep tech, you can get back on the path to restful nights. Let’s look at some of the common excuses around poor sleep habits, as well as what you can do to build better ones.

Excuse: I stay up late watching something/looking at my phone

You’ve probably heard it before: Too much screen time before bed is a bad thing. It’s true–research shows too much screen time before sleeping negatively impacts sleep (and can also lead to increased instances of depression).

Solution: Create better boundaries for yourself and limit screen time past a certain hour

Give yourself plenty of time to wind down before bed, and swap that last hour on your laptop for reading, stretching, or meditation. If you struggle to do this on your own, consider trying out a device like Dodow, which guides you through breathing exercises that can help you induce sleep.

Excuse: I’m always too awake to fall asleep

If you feel too wired to sleep when you lay down in bed, it may be because you’ve either had too little or too much physical activity before bed. Both are shown to cause hormonal changes that can throw off your natural circadian rhythms.

Solution: Establish a sleep routine and stick to it

Research on this shows that following a consistent sleep schedule seven days a week can help you establish a more consistent and healthy sleep cycle. If you’re not sure what an optimal night of sleep looks like for you, you might want to test out a sleep monitoring device like the Oura ring so you can see the patterns/trends that lead to your most well-rested morning state.

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Excuse: I’m too stressed to sleep

Anxiety and stress are probably two of the most common reason for sleeplessness in adults across the U.S. Sleep helps our bodies rest and repair overnight–and stress is the antithesis of that.

Solution: Instituting a pre-sleep routine

Creating a specific ritual can help you mentally wind down for the day. If that’s not enough, you may also consider trying an anxiety-reducing weighted blanket. One study showed that they help induce deeper, more restful sleep.

Excuse: I’m never the right temperature in bed

If the fact that your bed is either too hot or too cold keeps you up at night, there are simple fixes that can help you get better shut-eye.

Solution: Experiment with your temperature, and different bedding

Turn your home temperature down to an optimal 68 degrees Fahrenheit and experiment with different types of bedding to find the fabric that best helps you sleep. Bedding brands like Brooklinen and Buffy now let you try products free for 30 days, so you can find the optimal material without having to commit to buying right away. If that’s not enough, consider a mattress temperature controlling device like the ChiliPad that allows for custom temperature zones.

Excuse: My back/neck problem wakes me up at night

Back pain is a serious epidemic in the U.S. It costs Americans at least $100 billion each year in lost wages, healthcare costs, and decreased productivity. If you are experiencing these issues, your old mattress or pillows might be to blame. According to Consumer Reports, you should be replacing them every 10 years or less.

Solution: Invest in good-quality mattresses and pillows

Optimize your sleep setup to ease back and neck pain by trying different mattresses and pillows. Mattress brands like Casper offer a 100-night free trial period, which is plenty of time to experiment and find the optimal solution. The same goes for pillows–brands like Tempurpedic have free trial periods and easy returns so you can find the perfect sleep setup.

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Excuse: Noise keeps me from falling asleep/staying asleep

If noise pollution is interrupting your sleep patterns or delaying sleep, you’re part of the demographic of Americans who suffer from the health effects. Research shows that noise pollution that disrupts sleep can lead to some cardiometabolic, psychiatric, and social outcomes.

Solution: Block the noise with ambient sound

A white noise stimulator can help you get to sleep faster and more soundly. Studies have shown that white noise can “reduce” the magnitude of external sounds like outside activity or snoring, by creating a constant ambient backdrop.

Yes, there are a lot of obstacles to achieve a good night’s sleep–but there are also many ways you can choose to overcome them. Experiment with different tactics and tools to optimize your sleep, and make the most of your waking hours. Even one small change can make a big difference.


Kaleigh Moore is a writer and consultant for companies in the SaaS industry.

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