How Sleep Prepares You to Find Your Dream Job
A good night’s rest is far more important to landing that dream job than you might think. Yes, you need sleep to be well rested, but it does so much more. To present your best self, you need to mental and emotional clarity along with the ability to physically perform at your best. There are a number of ways that sleep helps you do that. We’ve also included a few tips to help you get better (and more) sleep.
Sleep’s Impact on Your Mental Clarity
It doesn’t matter if your dream job is to be the curator of a museum or the editor at a major publisher, you’re going to need all your mental acuity to meet your goals. The average adult needs seven to nine full hours of sleep for the brain and body to fully heal and restore themselves.
Anytime you get less, key areas of the brain change how they function. Most notably, the amygdala, a small area of the brain responsible for processing emotions, becomes oversensitive to negative emotions, thoughts, and events. It can even increase in size if you’re experiencing chronic stress, further magnifying negative feelings.
At the same time that the amygdala goes into overdrive, the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for applying logic, reason, and focus gets less active. Normally, this part of the brain keeps the amygdala in check, but without it, the amygdala has free reign over your emotional responses. Adequate rest allows your brain to maintain emotional balance.
Physical Health and Strength
A job takes more than mental acuity. Your physical health and strength can affect your ability to perform as well. Sleep deprivation lowers the activity of the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. Sleep deprivation also shows a correlation with long-term illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
Some dream jobs require physical strength, especially if you need to be on your feet all day. Studies have shown that muscles lose the ability to contract to their full strength without adequate rest. And, it’s during sleep, that torn or injured muscle tissue gets repaired. Essentially, sleep keeps you up and running for whatever comes your way.
Daily Habits Improve the Quality (and Quantity) of Your Sleep
If you look at your day as a whole, you create habits that support healthy sleep at night like:
- Waking Up and Going to Bed at the Same Time Each Day: By keeping a regular schedule, you support your body’s need to follow the natural 24-hour rhythms that control the sleep cycle.
- Relieve Stress Before Bed: If you’re on the hunt for a new job, stress may be a frequent companion and can affect your sleep. A calming bedtime routine can work wonders to relax your mind and body before bed. Try meditating, gentle yoga, or reading a book to bring down your energy level. Include anything that leaves you relaxed, and try to start your routine at the same time and perform each activity in the same order every day.
- Get Comfortable: Your bedroom should be a comforting sleep sanctuary. Most people sleep comfortably between 60 to 68 degrees. Depending on the season, you may need an electric blanket or table fan to keep your body from getting too cold or hot.
- Avoid Screens Before Bed: The screens on televisions, laptops, and smartphones can emit a blue light that suppresses sleep hormones. Shutdown devices two to three hours before bed to prevent a delay in the onset of sleep.
Better sleep (and your dream job) are right around the corner. With time and consistency, you can get the rest you need so that you’re prepared when the right opportunity comes your way.
Tuck is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NBC News, NPR, Lifehacker, and Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.