On World Sleep Day, we take a few moments to consider the relationship of sleep and your career, job performance, or success in job-hunting. Technology and the demands of family, partner relationships and other factors pull us in competing directions. According to a recent study by the Philips Corporation, Americans know we should get a good night’s sleep but 84% of us say there are “more important things to do”. 41% of Americans in the study said spending time with their family took precedence over sleep, 35% mentioned quality time with a partner, and 34% said they needed the time to watch favorite TV shows or movies. As a result, we do not prioritize sleep. What does this have to do with your career or job search?

Sleep directly affects cognitive functions like memory, detail orientation, hand-eye coordination, reading/writing skills, reasoning ability and more. Most adults require a minimum of 7 hours uninterrupted sleep, but many people need 8 – 9 hours to perform at optimum levels. The REM/ dream state cycle helps our brain’s hard drive to organize the millions of images and impressions we receive every day. Just like your mobile devices, our brains and bodies essentially re-charge (but we unplug instead of plug in). Whether you are looking for career advancement, or tying to find a job, setting aside time for “clean sleep” is an important step to take. Some strategies to improve this part of your life include:

  • Set a schedule that includes a bedtime routine you can manage daily.
  • Assemble a list of goals, read it before going to sleep. Your subconscious mind will absorb the information.
  • Turn off any blue screen device (cell phones, email, TV, movies) at least two hours before you intend to sleep. This helps your brain to power down, preparing for the resting phase.
  • Take a shower or bath about 90 minutes before you go to bed; a short immersion in water is relaxing and your body’s cool down process relaxes muscles and brain to help induce sleep.
  • Limit alcohol which interrupts sleep; no caffeine after 4 PM.
  • Read FICTION instead of perusing web sites, looking at magazines or watching the news – all of which stimulate your brain.
  • If you need extra time to review job listings, send resumes, or catch up on work, try getting up an hour early instead of staying up an hour later.
  • Keep a notepad and pen next to your bed; use them to record dreams as soon as you awaken. These may make sense later!

However you decide to do it, sleep matters and getting enough of it at the right time and in the right quality is critical to your career. For more on this subject, visit https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips.