As we continue to focus on sleep during National Sleep Awareness Week (March 10-16), we wanted to emphasize just how important sleep is for employees. Not only will sleep help increase productivity and creativity, but sleep can benefit your immunity, suppress appetite and help with memory function. Read on for the benefits of sleep for employees.

Naps Really Work

Harvard Medical study has evidenced that a nap can increase cognitive function, facilitate problem-solving, bolster creative thinking, and decrease the margin for error. But here’s the key, be sure not to nap for more than half an hour, because that’s when sleep inertia kicks in. Sleep inertia often appears as the feeling of incomplete awakening and grogginess that reduces your ability to perform even simple tasks.  Part of your body is actually still in a sleep state.

Everyone is a Dreamer

Dreams are a normal part of sleep, and everyone dreams about two hours per night, regardless of whether or not you remember your dreams. Use dreams as a guide to see how you’re really feeling in your daily life: if your dreams are unpleasant or you experience nightmares, it may be a sign you are stressed or anxious about something.

Sleep Could Boost Your Immunity

No, sleeping like a bear in hibernation will not prevent you from getting sick, but your body does do some interesting things while you’re sleeping. One such example is that it produces and releases cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation. Lack of sleep leads to less cytokines, which could inhibit your immune responses.

Well-Rested Means Less Calories

If you’re not sleeping well, your body may demand more energy. So when you’re awake more often, your body will release chemicals to signal hunger, which can lead to erratic eating habits, not just at night, but throughout the day. So even though you’re sleeping and barely moving at night, your body knows to naturally reduce calorie needs during that time.

Better Sleep, Better Memories

It’s no secret that you feel more focused when you get better sleep, but did you know that sleep also helps to protect and strengthen your memory. In fact, instead of cramming for that presentation or learning about a new client, sleep on it. You’ll be more likely to retain the information. The stages of REM and slow wave sleep contribute to creative thinking and memory processing specifically.

3 Facts About Sleep You May Not Know 

Men and Women Sleep Differently

We all know that men and women are different, but did you know that our sleep cycles also differ? Men have a longer circadian rhythm (six minutes longer!), meaning they will be less tired in the evening, whereas women likely wake up earlier. Another major difference: men’s performance suffers more than women when it comes to lack of sleep, and they recover slower from a disruptive night of sleep.  For women, be sure to plan your more challenging tasks for the beginning of the day.

You Can Reset Your Sleep Schedule

If you’re working a new job with different hours, perhaps dealing with customers in different time zones or working longer hours, it can be hard to get your sleep schedule on track. But you can make the change easier on yourself if you gradually adjust your schedule. Moving your bedtime or waking time in 15 minute increments over the course of a few weeks will change your circadian rhythm.

You Really Need Your Eight Hours

There’s a reason why eight hours is the recommended time of sleep across the board… seven to eight hours is the ideal number of hours for optimal health. During that time your body releases hormones that decrease risk for health conditions, manager hunger levels, maintain the immune system and retain memory. A study from the Journal Sleep found that those who stayed in the sweet spot of seven to eight hours are less likely to experience premature death.

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