Success: “It’s all in the ‘zzz’” says our columnist, Katie Brown

Particularly now, as we’re well in to the depths of UEFA Euro, we can probably all relate to that ungodly feeling we’ve all suffered, struggling to make it through the morning of work after the liquor from the night before. There’s not a lot of success going on right now.

Words: Katie Brown

However, if you’re still wondering why the letters on your computer screen seem persistently illegible and you’re GPS watch indicates you’ve not been walking in a straight line all day and you’ve covered a whopping 13km, there could actually be an alternative to point the finger at… Sleep (or lack of)

Lack of sleep over a 24-hour period induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1% which FYI, would make you 0.02% over the legal driving limit! So you can stop blaming old Gordon for the hangover symptoms as it could actually be the spirits behind sleep that are the problem (though we’re not saying that gin and tonic last night didn’t contribute).

So little or no sleep can not only leave us feeling drunk 99% of the time and hindering our chances of employee of the month, but given that we get enough of the ‘z’, it can also have some other effects to our working days.

Bed for the brain

Though the common association with sleep is that it’s those precious hours a night that gives rest for our body, sleep is actually more about rest for the brain. A study from Germany provides evidence that a full night’s sleep may actually increase brain power.

Enhances problem solving

Turns out it wasn’t our primary school teacher that we can blame for our inability to work out the change we’d get from a £10 note after purchasing our £1.80 Americano. The same German study found that participants on lesser sleep were on average, slower and less able to solve problems compared to those on a full night’s sleep. During sleep, our brains are hard at work, encoding restructuring information, so have a few extra minutes sleeping time and you’ll soon be correcting the nominated human calculator at dinner to how much you actually owe towards the bill.

90… is the magic number

While we’re talking football, research has suggested that our sleep cycles work in 90 minute intervals. Though 8 hours seems to be recommended, we’d actually reap more benefits from the night, feeling less tired and working more optimally the next day, had we’d slept for 6, 7.5 or 9 hours!

Though it might feel like sacrificing a few hours’ sleep every night will indeed allow us more time to be productive and get more things done, it might be worth considering that this more time spent awake is possibly more counter-productive, and is actually just our body’s way of enjoying a glass of wine, or two!