Young man sleeping in bed with alarm clock in foreground at bedroomHow much sleep do you get each night? Probably, not as much as you think, nor as much as you need. Sleep deprivation is widespread and it is affecting your work – and your health. Lack of adequate sleep is linked with a variety of health conditions, including obesity and cancer. Getting the right amount of sleep is a potential life-saver.

Now, there is new research that shows memory is linked to sleep. Your ability to recall things is boosted when you get the right amount of sleep. The study found that people were able to remember names of people when they slept properly, but had more difficulty in doing this task when deprived of sleep.

At work, you depend upon a good memory. You need to be able to recall a host of actions, decisions and ideas so that you can function properly in the workplace. If you are not able to remember things properly, your productivity falls and you increase the chances of errors and mistakes.

These days, there is also another impact on our sleep patterns – the smartphone. Millions of people check their phones before going to bed; indeed, many use the smartphone as an entertainment device, watching videos or reading books before going to sleep. The problem is that the light being projected by the phones fools your brain into believing it is still daytime. That has been shown to affect the production of hormones that control your body’s rhythms. The result is that you think you are sleeping OK, but the quality of your sleep is poor. One study found that smartphone usage was connected with anxiety resulting from sleep deprivation. The evidence is clear from a range of studies, using your mobile phone in the hour or two before sleeping is really bad for you. It reduces the quality and amount of your sleep, in turn affecting your memory and also impacting upon a range of health issues.

The “always on” society in which we live is damaging. It affects your sleep, it reduces your ability to work effectively and it harms your health.

So, what can you do about it?

The answer is to have a routine, a timetable that ensure you get everything done well before you go to bed. That means checking emails only once or twice a day, having set times for checking social media accounts and using a range of tools to help you schedule and plan things.