Sleep (and Dream) Your Way to Productivity

By Cindy Cook DeRuyter Posted October 20, 2017


Getting enough quality sleep every night can be a challenge for busy people, but doing so can have a marked increase in productivity at work.

Many working Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis. When trying to balance work and personal/family commitments, it can seem like there simply are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. If sacrificing sleep is something you do regularly in order to meet daily obligations, you’re not alone. Experts recommend getting at least eight hours of sleep. However, according to a Gallup poll, 40 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep each night. When you have a sleep deficit, you may inadvertently be adding to your stress, and hindering your own productivity.

Although it sounds counterintuitive, when you make an effort to get more, and better, sleep on a regular basis, you will not only be taking an important step to improve your health – you can improve your productivity in your day-to-day life.

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What Research Tells Us About the Importance of Proper Sleep for Health and Productivity

Study after study has shown that not getting enough sleep can lead to a decrease in overall health, and a corresponding decrease in productivity.

Work absences

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, working adults who get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night have the lowest instance of having an extended absence from work because of an illness. Put another way, not getting enough sleep is associated with more work absences – 11.3 days on average – which means decreased productivity. On a national scale, Harvard researchers estimated insomnia costs the U.S. workforce $63.2 billion, every year.

Performance and productivity

Even if they don’t take a sick day from work, sleep-deprived workers are slower at completing their regular tasks. Not surprisingly, accuracy is also negatively impacted when tasks are completed by someone who didn’t get enough quality shut-eye the night before. In fact, research has likened being sleep deprived to being under the influence of alcohol.

When we don’t get enough sleep, our working memory, attention span, cognitive performance, and the ability to make decisions are all impacted.


Staying up later than normal or getting up early every once in a while shouldn’t have much of an impact on your productivity or your health. However, those who don’t get enough sleep or who sleep poorly are at risk for health issues including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, mood disorders, and impaired immune system function. Those who sleep less than five hours a night also face a decreased life expectancy.

How to Get Better Sleep

Don’t reach for medication to help you get more sleep; doing so has been linked to an increase in calling in sick for work. Instead, try these tips from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Aim for consistency. Try to stick to the same schedule on both weekdays and weekends.
  • Create, and follow, a ritual. Having a nightly routine before bed can help you transition from a busy day to a relaxing night of sleep. Just try to stay away from bright lights and stressful activities.
  • Exercise. Getting regular exercise can help you sleep longer, and more soundly.
  • Control your environment. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow, and that the temperature in your bedroom is cool. Your room should also be dark and quiet. If a spouse or partner snores, consider using earplugs, a fan, or a white noise machine to help you block out the disruption.
  • Be smart about napping. Sometimes, a short nap during the day can help you be more productive without impacting your nighttime sleep. However, naps can also interfere with your sleep schedule. If you are having trouble sleeping at night, try eliminating daytime naps.

Lucid Dreaming and Productivity

As researchers learn more about sleep and its restorative powers, more and more people from all walks of life are trying to harness the power of lucid dreaming to increase productivity. In a lucid dream, you are asleep and dreaming, are fully aware that you’re dreaming, and you are exerting a measure of control over your dream.

The idea of controlling dreams isn’t anything new, but it’s gaining traction. Canadian researchers are using lucid dreaming as part of PTSD treatment, German sleep scientists use it for improving focus and performance in athletes, and dozens of books, videos, and even mobile apps about lucid dreaming have sprung up in recent years.

Proponents of lucid dreaming claim it can be used to help solve problems your brain wasn’t able to work out during its waking hours, prepare for presentations, and even improve motor skills.

The science of exactly what’s going on in your brain during a lucid dream isn’t settled, but the state seems to be somewhere between wakefulness and REM sleep. When you’re experiencing a lucid dream, researchers believe you’re changing your brain’s neuroplasticity, which is the ability of your brain to rewire itself. This can lead to increases in your ability to handle everyday tasks and can lead to greater productivity at work.

Improving Productivity with Technology

Getting enough, quality sleep every night can have a marked positive impact on both health and productivity.

To drive even greater productivity, consider your company’s technology platform. Is it designed to automate processes, route requests, and manage tasks for users? If not, contact Integrify today to learn about software solutions and services designed to make everyday tasks faster, more accurate, and user-friendly.

Getting enough quality sleep every night can be a challenge for busy people, but doing so can have a marked increase in productivity at work.


Cindy Cook DeRuyter

Cindy Cook DeRuyter is an attorney in private practice and a freelance writer in St. Paul, MN. Prior to taking her practice full-time in 2015, Cindy spent more than 19 years in Investment Adviser and Broker-Dealer compliance and operations roles for firms including RSM Wealth Management, Nuveen Investments, US Bancorp Asset Management and Thrivent Financial.


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