How Your Bedroom Keeps You Sharp During the Day

Sleep boosts our productivity and mental well being

For most of us, it’s incredibly tempting to curl up in bed and watch Game of Thrones on our laptop. The next morning, we might not realise why we’re sluggish, why it takes twice as long to compose an email, why we can’t concentrate during a meeting or class…

Our bedrooms play a bigger role in our day-to-day productivity than we think. The right bedroom environment is the secret to excellent brain performance because it supports more and higher quality sleep.

And if we treat our bedrooms wrong? We pay for it the next day, and the next.

Why Sleep is Crucial for Productivity

Sleep is crucial for brain performance during your waking hours. It affects work performance, alertness, concentration, decision-making, and more.

Every 15 minutes of sleep counts. Several studies have shown a strong correlation between sleep and high grades for school students. One study by Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom found that A students get, on average, 15 more minutes of sleep per night than B students, which in turn get 15 minutes more than C students, and so on.

Dr. Alexandros Vgontzas, director of the Penn State Hershey Sleep Research and Treatment Center, explains that one night of lost sleep has the same impact in simulated driving tests as being legally drunk. In fact, the same effect even starts to show when you reduce your sleep from eight hours to six.

Studies to date haven’t fully explained how sleep impacts the brain and why it impacts performance so heavily, and researchers are hard at work examining its far-reaching and varied influence, from learning to decision-making.

Here’s an interesting tip from UCSF researcher Michael Stryker, Ph.D.: Sleep provokes plasticity, or the number of connections between nerve cells, slightly more than double the amount of exposure to experience. If you’re studying for a test and you review your notes for a few hours before getting a good night’s rest, then you’ll actually remember just as much as if you had instead stayed in your seat and reviewed the notes one more time. That is, one unit of study time plus a good night’s rest is equal to double the study time.

REM sleep, the sleep phase in which we dream, is crucial to learning how to do a procedure-based activity, like playing the violin. The same researchers also found that REM sleep also supports decision making because it allows the brain to process information that it wasn’t able to during the day. This processing and synthesis allows us to make better decisions, lending some merit to the popular phrase, “sleep on it” (study).

4 rules to improve your bedroom for better sleep

  1. Keep your bedroom cool, between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 21 degrees Celsius).
  2. Dim the lights at least one hour before you go to bed. This cues your body to produce the hormone melatonin, which helps control your sleep and wake cycles.
  3. Avoid doing work and stressful activities in your bedroom.
  4. Remove technology from your bedroom. This does two things: it eliminates distractions and stressors from the “real world,” making it easier to follow rule #3, and it eliminates unnecessary lights, which suppresses melatonin production (making it easier to follow rule #2). If you charge your phone overnight, place it in the kitchen or any area outside the confines of your bedroom. Many people rely on their cell phones as an alarm clock, so it’s worth it to invest in a separate alarm clock that only exists for the purpose of waking you up and can’t be cajoled into showing you your Facebook news feed. Remove your laptop from the bedroom as well, as it’s a temptation to reengage with work and social stimuli — plus it’s a powerful source of melatonin-suppressing blue light. Same with the television. Sleep hygiene experts recommend that you avoid watching television or even reading in bed. Move it out of the bedroom altogether for a more calm, sleep-supporting sanctuary.

Keep it a relaxed and pleasant place for a higher quantity and higher quality of sleep. You’ll be ready to tackle anything in the morning.

Our app, Peak Sleep – Sleep Better, is designed to help you relax before bedtime. It helps calm the mind and prepare the body for rest with different, evidence-based methods like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindful Meditation, Muscle Relaxation and Guided Imagery. So you can find your own way to relax, sleep well, and Peak Sleep refreshed.

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Tom Williams