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We get it, you’re exhausted. You were probably tired even before daylight savings time meant the clocks sprang forward this past weekend and everyone lost an hour’s sleep.
And whether you realize it or not, grogginess could torpedo your productivity at work — even though your job is probably one of the main reasons you can’t sleep in the first place.
A new survey from CareerBuilder found that 60% of people say that not getting enough sleep has hurt their work, and more than 20% have actually bailed on work just to get more sleep. People say being tired at work makes them less motivated, less productive, and more likely to make mistakes.
Sadly, our stressful jobs also deserve some of the blame for sleeplessness: Nearly half of respondents told CareerBuilder that thinking about work is what keeps them up at night.
What can we do to combat the effects of daylight savings and year-round stress in order to get a better night’s sleep? CareerBuilder’s chief human resources officer Rosemary Haefner says better bedtime habits can go a long way towards getting much-needed shut-eye. “Get all your worrying over with before you go to bed,” she says. “If you find you lay in bed thinking about tomorrow, consider setting aside a period of time — perhaps after dinner — to review the day and to make plans for the next day.”
Then, “Dim the lights, and focus on quiet, soothing activities, such as reading, knitting, or listening to soft music,” Haefner says. “Studies find chamomile tea can reduce anxieties, getting you into a better head space for sleep.”
But if you’ve already tried all that and still find yourself staring at the ceiling or counting sheep night after night, try switching out your bedside lamp, advises Heather Coros, a sleep expert (yes, that is a real thing) and life coach. “Turn on a Himalayan salt lamp,” she says, like this one that will set you back around $31 on Amazon or this one you can buy at Urban Outfitters for $34.
These funky-looking lights are literally just a big salt crystal with a bulb inside, and some alternative medicine practitioners ascribe health benefits to them. “Himalayan salt lamps naturally filter the air and positively impact the ionization in the room,” Coros says.
Scientists say to take claims like this with a grain of — well, you know what. But there is another and even better reason to give a chunk of lit-up rock space on your nightstand.
“Your body has certain biological cues that will signal that it’s time to go to bed,” Coros says, and the wrong kind of light can scramble those cues. Research has shown that the blue-tinted light from our smartphones and laptops throw off the body’s melatonin (aka sleep hormone) production.
“Turning off those screens allows your body to signal to your circadian rhythm center, located in the hypothalamus, that it’s light’s out, literally,” Coros says. (This is why some experts recommend a red filter app if you absolutely have to look at your phone or tablet right before bed.)
The salt lamp’s pinkish hue gives the light that filters through a warm tone, which won’t throw off your brain’s concept of the time. “Let your body know it’s time to power down,” Coros says.
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