If you were upset at hearing about air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job, you shouldn’t be, according to Tony Schwartz, a business consultant. The problem here is basically biological. We have evolved to be awake during the day and to sleep at night. The later it gets, the more tired we become. Some of the worst accidents in history occurred at night – Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez running aground.
The government did a study about the effects of napping on the night shift and found that the more time the air traffic controllers had to sleep, the more alert they were. Other studies of airline pilots showed the same thing.
What all of this points to is the fact that our society does not value rest and recuperation as much as it should. And this hurts us all. When we have a lot to do, rest and sleep usually are the first things to go, even if by cutting out sleep we do a poor job. Businesses tend to judge their employees purely by the number of hours they put in, rather than the value they create.
But rather than get to work early and stay late, it would be better to get to work at little later and leave a little earlier, and take a few more breaks at work. The fact is, if you do this, you will be more alert and do a better job. And you will be more productive, because you will get more things done in a smaller amount of time.
You can see for yourself if resting more really does work, according to Schwartz. For the next few weeks, try getting about 20 to 30 minutes of sleep between 1 and 3 p.m. You shouldn’t sleep for more than 30 minutes, or you will wake up groggy. Then, at the end of the day, see how productive you were during the time after the nap. You will be surprised at how much of a difference it makes. If for some reason you don’t have the opportunity to sleep for a short time, find some other way to get some rest during the work day. The best time schedule for this is to do it every 90 minutes.
The bottom line, according to Schwartz, is that there is nothing more important to improving your productivity and effectiveness at work than making sure you get enough rest.
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