The ultimate productivity hack: sleep

There are many articles on productivity at work, the best way to get organized, the best tools to adopt, the best team rituals to put in place... However, we often forget that to work well and build healthy relationships at work with your peers, your team and your manager, it is also essential to be in good form. And it all starts with paying attention to your sleep.

When it comes to sleep, we are not all equal: there are light sleepers, heavy sleepers, people who thrive in the morning, those of the evening, etc. It is important to know your own sleep needs in order to optimize your work day and to make sure not to schedule complex tasks at times when your focus is at its lowest!

Different sleep needs

  • Hours of sleep per night

Are you one of those people who need 10 hours of sleep per night or is 5 hours enough for you?

It is estimated that the average is around 8 hours per night for an adult.

How do I know what my natural need is?

To find out what your natural need for sleep is, write down your natural bedtimes and wake-up times during the 2nd week of your holidays. Indeed, the 1st week is often the one where we recover the sleep debt accumulated throughout the year and it is only during the 2nd week that our cycles return to normal. Of course if you have a very festive holiday the results might be distorted!!!

  • 🤔 Morning or night person?

Do you know if you’re a morning or a night person: are you a rooster or a night owl?

Morning people (“roosters”) get up early. Their vigilance, their energy, their intellectual performance are at their maximum in the morning and decrease in the afternoon, then in the evening.

Evening people (“night owls”) get up in poor shape but see their performance increase during the day to peak in the evening.

Depending on your chronotype, it will be wiser to plan your complex tasks when your energy is at its peak.

To discover your sleep chronotype, you can do the following quiz:

  • 🧬 Our internal biological clock

We all have an internal biological clock that fluctuates according to the circadian cycle: that is to say the alternation of day and night.

We notice in all human beings a first peak of drowsiness between 2am and 4am: metabolism, body temperature and alertness are at their lowest levels (people who work night shifts beware: the risk of accidents are higher!).

The second peak of drowsiness occurs 12 hours later, between 2pm and 4 pm. Less important than the first, it is nevertheless well known to all: it is the mid-afternoon fatigue (moreover, studies have shown that it has nothing to do with lunch and digestion!).

In addition, it should be noted that light is an inhibitor of melatonin secretion, the sleep hormone.

Low energy - Popwork

The main sleep disruptors

Excessive variations in bedtime: I go to bed at 11pm on one day, at 3am the next day and then at 1 am on the next. Ditto if I get up at 7am every morning of the week and at 1pm on Sunday mornings: I disrupt my biological clock. I'm jet lagged!

Too much time spent in bed - my active life is spent in bed: making calls, watching tv, working, playing online, etc.

My bed is no longer reserved for sleep, love and relaxation.

Healthy sleep hygiene rules

☝️Get up at fixed times, weekends included (with a margin of 1h30) and get up early even after a sleepless night (in this case a nap will be welcome).If you get up at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays, don't go past 8 a.m. on weekends. And if you go to bed at 2 a.m. on weekends, still set your alarm clock at 8 a.m. and take a nap from 1 to 1.5 hours after lunch.

☝️Go to bed at a fixed time and if possible before midnight. It is indeed during the first 3 hours of the night that restorative sleep takes place. However, this is the first 3 hours from the usual bedtime. Thus, if a person accustomed to going to bed at 10:30pm goes to bed at 1230am, then he loses 2 of those 3 precious hours.

☝️Sleep in a good sleep environment:

  • a clean and tidy room
  • a room temperature between 18 and 20 degrees
  • absence of blue or white light sources that block the secretion of melatonin, the hormone that informs the brain that it will soon be necessary to sleep: no blue diode, no computer, tablet, backlit reader, or smartphones!

Prepare for sleep

  • Do not eat too much in the evening (especially fast carbohydrates which cause awakening)
  • No coffee after 2 pm! (if you are a coffee fan, go for decaffeinated)
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol in the evening: nicotine is a stimulant that delays sleep and increases nocturnal awakenings
  • Avoid playing sports after 8pm, or else think about refreshing your body before going to sleeping (lukewarm shower, walking barefoot)
  • Go to bed when you are really sleepy (normally you should fall asleep in less than 15 minutes)
  • If you're not sleeping, you don't have to stay in bed for more than 20 or 30 minutes for nothing. You will be a winner if you choose to stand up for a few moments


The nap is an excellent tool to recover and manage work and rest times (except for insomniacs).

Taking a nap at work - Popwork

There are several types of nap:

  • The short nap (10 to 20min): it is ideal for stimulating alertness and energy
  • The long nap (90min): it allows you to recover a sleep cycle in case of sleep debt
  • And for a few fans, the “caffeinated siesta” (coffee nap): before settling down for a nap (10 to 20 minutes), drink a cup of coffee. Knowing that the maximum effect of caffeine happens about 20 minutes after absorption, you will wake up with a double energizing effect: nap + caffeine!

In conclusion, to gain in productivity but also in quality of interaction with colleagues, one of the best methods is very simple: take care of your sleep. It is therefore essential as a manager to pay attention to this point for oneself but also to be attentive to the simple signals which make it possible to identify that a person is sleep deprived.

A particularly irritable and difficult to manage person, a person who has difficulty concentrating, is often passive in meetings or a person who regularly shares negative feelings in a tool like Popwork can simply be a sleep-deprived employee…