Now, this won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever reached for a cup of coffee bleary-eyed at 7.59am on a Monday morning in the office – but sleep really matters. We talk about sleep quite a bit here at The Odd Company, as sleep has the potential to transform almost all aspects of your life. 

From having a better memory to improving your immune system to having a better relationship with your friends, family and significant other – sleep has a mysterious power over the rest of our lives.

Or not so mysterious, as revered sleep expert and neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Walker explains in his tome ‘Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams’, which aims to share all the benefits of positive sleep – and consequences to negative sleep – that he has uncovered throughout the course of his research. 


Why does sleep matter?

So, what’s the big deal about a few missed hours of sleep? As Dr. Walker tells us – everything. In the course of his research, the sleep expert and professor of neuroscience and psychology has found that the impacts following a sleepless night can range from the physical to the mental – and to the frankly bizarre.

Walker states that operating anything less than seven hours of sleep qualifies as ‘short sleep’ and can lead to a whole host of risks for both brain and body. To name a few of Walker’s more shocking statistics, a lack of sleep increases your risk for heart attack, cancer and stroke by 200%, as well as compromising your immune system.

These examples continue to pepper Walker’s book with sleep affecting blood sugar, weight gain, mental health, aggression, addiction, and many more. 

Now, we can see how a lack of sleep is bad for our health. What about our brains?

How does sleep affect your productivity at work? 

So, we know that sleep – or rather a lack of – has a huge ripple effect throughout the body. Rather than simply making us tired, a lack of sleep makes itself felt in your immune system, weakening your body’s defences and giving you a vulnerability to develop further conditions. 

It turns out that sleep affects our minds in a similar way. Walker reports that a lack of sleep makes you emotionally irrational, less charismatic and – bizarrely – more prone to lying. The rejuvenation that is provided by sleep is also vital for our abilities to think clearly, learn new information, and manage our emotions.

How can sleep affect our productivity at work?

Walker comments: “Underslept employees tend to create fewer novel solutions to problems, they’re less productive in their work and they take on easier challenges at work”. 

This is no real shock – a lack of sleep can make it more challenging to maintain focus; as well as the sheer amount of energy that your body is using to stay awake. This naturally makes it far more difficult to stay focused when tackling long tasks and those that require concentration. Of course, it all makes sense – you’re hardly likely to jump into that 12-page financial report if you’re struggling to keep your eyes open. 

So what about that cup of coffee you’re reaching for in a bid to stay alert in the post-lunch slump?  

Walker has plenty to say about caffeine – and brace yourself, it’s not pretty! One dose of late-in-the-day caffeine can decrease the drinker’s amount of deep sleep by 20% – a similar percentage drop in sleep quality associated with ageing fifteen years.  He comments: “The gross demonstration of caffeine is that it prevents you from falling asleep. The slightly more nefarious aspect of caffeine is that maybe you can fall asleep, but we know that the depth of deep sleep you’re getting if caffeine is still in your system is severely less. So those people who say, “I can fall asleep just fine,” it still doesn’t mean they’re safe and clear from the reaching arm of caffeine into their sleep”. 


How can we improve our sleep? 

Of course, there’s no magic button you can press for eight hours of uninterrupted shut-eye. However, there are steps you can take to get that restful night’s slumber. Our sleep experts recommend taking the following steps to get better sleep! 

  • Change your mattress. Not only do mattresses need to be changed at least every ten years, but a high-quality, fully-sprung supportive bespoke mattress gives the very best sleep possible. 
  • Limit your screen time. Pop that phone away face-down at least 30 minutes before bed, to limit the amount of harmful stimulating blue light you take in, which can block your rising levels of melatonin and make you more alert! 
  • Sleep accessories. Walker himself practises what he preaches, with noise-cancelling earplugs and blackout curtains for that perfect night’s slumber!   

Our mattresses are designed to allow you to enjoy a perfect night’s sleep, no matter how much you’ve got on at work. Set yourself up for a great working week, with an Odd mattress – learn more here!