If you’re trying to optimize your productivity, then you need to prioritize sleep.
A huge body of research has found that short-term and chronic sleep deprivation can impair cognitive function, making it harder to generate creative ideas , stay focused on work, complete tasks in a timely manner, and generally maintain a high level of performance.
This means failing to obtain adequate amounts of high-quality sleep every night can jeopardize any efforts you’re making to be more productive.
But the good news is that taking steps to improve your sleep can greatly enhance your work performance. To make that happen, evaluate your sleep habits and make sure you aren’t committing any of these five mistakes.
A regular sleep-wake routine trains your body to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, making it more likely that you’ll enjoy consistent, adequate sleep.
On the other hand, going to bed and waking up at different times throughout the week can throw your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle out of whack. This can lead to daytime drowsiness and make it harder to fall asleep at night.
And don’t think you can make up for sleep lost during the week by sleeping in on the weekends. Research suggests that obtaining seven to nine hours of sleep every night is the most effective way to feel well rested every day.
To do that, you’ll need to create and stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
You watch TV or browse your phone until you go to bed.
Exposing yourself to the “blue light” emitted by electronics (such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and TVs) interferes with our body’s sleep-wake cycles and makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.
That means watching TV or browsing your phone right up until bedtime is all but guaranteed to lower your sleep quality. What’s more, scrolling through Netflix or social media can turn into a rabbit hole that keeps you up much later than planned. And if you end up watching a scary show or reading about a stressful news event, that can amp you up and make it harder to unwind and fall asleep.
The bottom line? To sleep better, shut off all electronic devices at least an hour before hitting the sheets.
Instead, try reading a book, journaling, or meditating. If you can do an activity that you enjoy, but helps you relax instead of getting you amped up, you’re going to be in a much better place.
You don’t think your eating habits affect your sleep.
While eating and sleeping are two separate activities, each one can have a big impact on the other.
Not sleeping enough can cause you to crave less healthy foods in the form of sugar and processed items. And when and how much you eat can influence your sleep.
For instance, eating a large meal right before bed causes the body to heat up because it’s working to digest that food. This counteracts the natural drop in body temperature that is essential for drifting off to sleep.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to avoid eating a large dinner right before bed. And after you eat an early dinner, try to avoid big snacks before bedtime to increase your odds of drifting off to sleep.
Some people’s sleep is particularly sensitive to their diet, with many finding diets like intermittent fasting to have a big impact on sleep.
You’re having a nightcap before bed most nights.
Just as when you eat can affect your sleep quality, the same is true for when you drink.
Sure, a glass of wine before bed can help you drift off. But research consistently finds that drinking alcohol close to bedtime is likely to disrupt your sleep, provoke nighttime wakeups, and prevent REM sleep — all of which can lead to daytime drowsiness.
This doesn’t mean you need to become a teetotaler. But avoiding alcoholic beverages in the hours leading up to bed can increase your chances of sleeping soundly through the night.
If you need a nightly fix, consider an alternative like CBD. It has relaxing properties, and may even help with sleep rather than hurt it.
Jeff Yauck, Founder of PureKana, says, “customers are increasingly using our CBD products to help them have a better night of sleep. A good night of sleep translates to better productivity, better mood, and overall well being, so we are prioritizing innovative products that can help our customers in that area.”
You’re not taking steps to manage stress.
Stress can majorly interfere with productivity, and it can also majorly interfere with sleep. When sleep suffers, productivity suffers, and stress increases. It’s a vicious cycle!
The antidote lies in disrupting stress by taking the time to unwind every day — especially before bed. That might look like meditating, taking a warm bath, reading a good book, doing some light yoga, listening to calming music, or engaging in any other activities that help you shed stress and feel calmer or more positive.
By reducing your stress levels, you’ll automatically improve your productivity and your sleep. And there’s no greater recipe for better work performance.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.