Sunday, December 20, 2020


 By Brett Armstron

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Could you actually boost your work productivity by doing nothing? That’s the gist of going through all the sleep stages when catching Zs. Sleep deprivation is a major problem today, and it’s estimated it costs the U.S. at least $400 billion every year. While some solutions like trying to find the right mattress are more obvious, sleep quality might be just as important as a sleep environment.

Several years ago, I realized that while I was getting enough shut-eye at night, I kept waking up in the middle of the night so I wasn’t getting enough “rapid eye movement” (REM) sleep. I’d like to share what I’ve learned about the link between sleep stages and work productivity.


How much Sleep Do We Need? 


This is a big question to take up before discussing how sleep quality might affect work productivity. You’ve probably heard or read that you need 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, right?


“Good” Night’s Sleep 

The amount of sleep adults need is indeed generally 7 to 9 hours of slumber per night. However, even among adults, this number can vary. While it’s the exception rather than the rule, some adults feel well-rested after 6 hours of sleep every night. On the other extreme, bodybuilders generally need up to 9 hours of shut-eye nightly.


A more important guideline is sleep quality. For example, if you cycle through the 5 stages of sleep every night and wake up without an alarm clock—that’s good quality sleep.


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Importance of Sleep 

Catching enough Zs is important for various day-to-day activities. Anyone who’s only gotten 6, 4, or even 2 hours of sleep knows that it can make your body sluggish and mind foggy. Sleep deprivation is a common problem today, and nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults report they don’t get a good night’s sleep at least one day a month, according to


Effects of Sleep Deprivation 

A lack of sleep can cause several results that affect people’s day-to-day life. In fact, it can affect many factors, including:


  • Heart Health
  • Brain Health
  • Productivity
  • Emotions
  • Immune System
  • Energy
  • Creativity
  • Bodyweight

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation 

The good news is you just have to relax and catch Zs to get the benefits of a good night’s sleep.


Benefits of Sleep 

A full 7 or 8 hours of sleep can provide various health benefits related to factors like alertness, energy, mood, and stress management. These are all important for your day-to-day life and are closely linked to productivity. If you’re alert, energized, and low-stress at work or school, then you can get more done.


When we sleep, this isn’t just a time when our bodies shut down like computers. During this time, the body recharges while the brain helps provide body maintenance so you can function effectively during the next day.


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Sleep Problems and Disorders 

If you suffer from either of them, you can take steps like making sure to pick the right mattress. This can help you get enough sleep by providing a mattress with a sufficient amount of comfort, support, and airflow, for example.


There are other factors that might be affecting your sleep quality. They include:


  • Stress/Anxiety
  • Caffeine
  • Noise/Light Levels
  • Air Temperature
  • Heavy Meals/Snacks

All of these factors might affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, which can affect your dozing at night and productivity during the next day.


How to Sleep Better: Tricks to a Deep Sleep (video)


Sleep Cycles and Sleep Quality 


The best quality sleep is when we go through the five stages of sleep this helps to complete the “sleep cycles.” This is important because it’s closely related to sleep quality.


The Sleep Stages 


The five stages of sleep include:


Stage 1

This is what people experience within the first 10 minutes of dozing off. In this stage, people often wake up because they feel a sensation of falling down.


Stage 2

In this stage, the human body starts preparing for deep sleep. The body temperature drops, muscles relax, and heart rate slows down.


Stage 3 & 4

These are both deep sleep stages, with stage 4 being deeper sleep than stage 3.  If you hear about 4 sleep stages, it’s a combination of Stage 3 & Stage 4. 

When people are in these sleep stages, it’s tough to wake them up. In fact, if people do wake up, they frequently have feelings of being confused or disoriented. It’s quite literally a “rude awakening.”


Stage 5

This is known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. It involves the brain’s regeneration.


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Breaking the Cycle 

If you wake up while in the middle of any of the sleep stages, then the sleep cycle is broken. The result is you might experience the four stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM). However, you’ll miss the deep sleep stage known as REM sleep or ‘dream phase.”


What’s the big deal? If you’re not getting enough REM sleep, it can cause various health issues and even a sleep disorder.


The All-Important REM Stage 


This sleep stage is connected to most dreams we have. It takes about 90 minutes to fall into this sleep stage. After this deep sleep the sleep cycle starts again, and you return to the NREM stages.



Revitalizing REM 


REM sleep is important because it’s been linked to several sleep benefits, including:


  • Energizing
  • Better mood
  • Improved memory


Fun Fact: On average, a person goes through the REM sleep stage about 4 times, and the total time is about 2 hours. So while it makes up about one-fourth of your sleep time, REM might be considered more important than the other three-quarters of sleep time.


In fact, one reason people often feel groggy after taking a cat nap is they didn’t cycle through all 5 sleep stages, including REM.


REM and Productivity


People who are working or studying can get into “the zone.” This allows them to be 100% engaged in their task. Time flies, and you get more done than during the other hours working, studying, and playing.


It turns out that getting to this stage of “flow” takes a while like getting REM sleep. If you’re interrupted while in the zone, then the cost will be extra time, effort, and focus.


Getting enough high-quality REM sleep can help provide the energy needed to boost productivity whether or not you’re in the zone. It’s especially important though when your productivity becomes super-human.  


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While getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night is important, it’s just the start to a good night’s sleep. Make sure to also focus on sleep quality. This includes creating a sleep schedule and  environment that will help you cycle through the 5 stages of sleep at night. 

You can also take other steps to improve sleep quality. Stop drinking caffeine by afternoon, switch off electronic gadgets at least an hour before bedtime, and find the right mattress. These steps can all help you get more REM sleep. While daydreaming won’t do much for your productivity, it turns out deep-sleep dreaming might actually help! 


Brett is a writer at ID-MAG. An enthusiast and expert when it comes to sleep products, Brett dedicates a lot of his time reading, researching, and reviewing about both traditional and emerging sleep brands that manufacture varied types of sleep products – from eco-mattresses, smart pillows to cooling sleep systems, Brett has probably reviewed them all. Brett also finds sleep especially important since he juggles a small business which he runs from home, makes sure he spends time with his daughter and he also writes during his spare time – you can definitely see that he needs a great forty winks all night, every night so he’ll make sure that you get great sleep, too!

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