Located right in the heart of Silicon Valley and tech, how can we learn to put down our devices and care for our greatest mobile device: our bodies?
I recently had the fortunate opportunity of attending a presentation at Adobe’s Headquarters in Downtown San Jose on how we can sleep better in the current high-tech world we live in. Dr.Norah Simpson, a clinical assistant professor at Stanford University was the speaker for this very informative talk. In addition to her teaching roles, she is also a part of the Stanford Sleep Health & Insomnia Program, which offers non-drug treatments for adults and children with sleeping difficulties, as well as conduct research on sleep disorders.
As humans, especially marketers, living in this day and age usually means owning a smartphone and using it for at least a couple hours per day, whether in the morning, during the day, or at night before bed. After a long day in the office conducting market research, creating campaigns, or even attending an SJSU Marketing Association meeting, we just want to unwind and head to bed. However, most of us love to go on our phones whilst in bed as a way of “unwinding”. The minutes and hours go by, and suddenly you’re sleeping much later than you had anticipated. Losing sleep is never fun, so here’s how to sleep better in a high-tech world.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Let’s start off with what happens if you miss out on sleep. Sleep Deprivation; most of us have heard of this term before, but have we really considered its impact? Sure, there may be a belief that you can make up for all the lost sleep during the weekend, but that is completely untrue, no one can just rack up sleep debt during the week and pay it all off on Saturday and Sunday. Not getting enough sleep is a leading cause of high BMI, irritability, fatigue throughout the day, and many more harmful effects. Also, it increases your risk of developing a cold, which will definitely hold you back from being fully there when you present your social media audit to your superiors! Studies have shown that individuals sleeping for less than 7 hours are three times more at risk for getting sick than those who get over seven hours.
In terms of performance, chronic insufficient sleep can make a substantial impact on your cognitive performance. As a marketer, you constantly have to be on your toes, and have the ability to switch between analytical thinking and creative thinking on command. Without sleep, your ability to do so sharply decreases, and will have negative effects on memory, learning capabilities, and attention span. A study was conducted by Dr.Simpson and her colleagues at Stanford to test the effects of sleep deprivation on creative problem solving. The control group was held back to less than 6 hours of sleep, while the variable group was allowed to take one 30 minute nap beforehand. Both groups then were to play a game called “Eggbert” to see which group would solve each puzzle quicker. Of course, the group that had
taken a nap performed better by a large margin.
So why aren’t people sleeping more (or better)?
One of the simplest answers to the question is: there is a lack of awareness of the negative impact. Especially in the world of marketing and business, sleep is not exactly emphasized every day. Did you know that not getting enough sleep can cause similar effects as alcohol intoxication? I have no experience with being intoxicated, but according to Dr.Simpson and multiple studies, an individual will have the equivalent to a .05% BAC after 17-19 hours of wakefulness, and .1% after 28 hours. That’s over the legal limit for driving!
In our interconnected world, it has never been more important to maintain work-life balance. People nowadays have been working far harder and longer than workers back in the early 1900s. Light is another factor as to why we aren’t sleeping as well as we should be. Phone screens emit light, blue light to be specific, and that light tricks our bodies into thinking it is still daytime, thus slowing or even halting the production of melatonin, the hormone that puts us sound asleep. In addition to that, we spend, on average, 30 minutes longer lying awake in bed than if we didn’t go on our phones beforehand, scrolling through Facebook, SJSU Marketing Association’s Instagram page, or checking emails from your marketing team.
What can we do about it?
Other than the obvious answer of sleeping earlier, there are many things you can do throughout the day to improve sleeping habits at night. For example, you should avoid consuming caffeine after lunchtime. It might be tempting to go on a coffee run with your marketing team at 3pm when you’re tired, but trust me, your body will thank you later. Exercising is also a good way to drain some of that energy from your body and prepare you for bed; just don’t work out a couple hours before sleeping. Reason being is that your body generates heat when exercising, and it takes a while before your temperatures returns to its baseline, so you need to make sure you set at least an hour before bed as a wind-down period. In terms of the environment you sleep in, make sure you slumber in a dark, quiet, and cool room, around 65°F. Make sure you keep all electronics out of reach and away from the room, and protect adequate time time for sleeping at all costs. If you absolutely need to nap during the day, 10 minute brief naps are proven to be the most effective when trying to regain quick energy. That email, your marketing projects, even your ROI presentation can wait; none of that will succeed without enough rest. There is always a time for such activities during the day, but there is only one to be done at night: sleeping.
Aaron Kwong is a senior marketing student at San Jose State University and a Marketing Committee Member of SJSU Marketing Association.