Sleep on it! How #doonadays help productivity

Ellie Doyle, 4 min read

Yarnoers can opt for a Doona Day, any day, twice a year, no questions asked. All it takes is a Slack status update - bed emoji #doonaday - and you can get right back to ZZZing. 

So why does Yarno champion sleeping on the job? Because sleep, as it turns out, is a big predictor of work-life success, health and happiness. Matthew Walker in Why We Sleep makes no qualms about it: “Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body and health each day.” So how is your colleague who is up til 2am with three kids under five and a half dozen guinea pigs so peppy having only five or six hours? Want to join Michelle Obama, Jeff Bezos and Indra Nooyi for a pre-5am wake up call but just *not today*? Or… is a sound night’s sleep as easy as adding to cart Goop’s recommended air purifier, white noise sound machine, Oura ring, Mushroom Hot Cacao Mix (with Reishi) and silky pyjama top that will set you back five granny smiths (pants not included)? Well, according to the experts it all comes down to your chronotype. A what-o-type? A chronotype. Simply put: your behavioural template. 

A WHAT-O-TYPE? A CHRONOTYPE

Although we’re all apart of the general sleep-wake cycle as human beings (and most people have a diurnal preference i.e. awake during the day, asleep at night), studies show that how we function can differ wildly depending on what time of day (or night) it is. Dictated by a person’s own internal clock and circadian rhythms, a chronotype determines when a person is considered most (slash least)productive. Or as 'The Sleep Doctor' Michael Breus calls it: the power of when. Want to write a winning sales pitch in 20 minutes or less? Put together an IKEA flat pack? How about present that pesky Pecha-Kucha? Can’t stop yawning in your 3pm Zoom? Or maybe... you want to fall in love? That might just depend on whether you’re an Early Bird or a Night Owl. (Read up on Amanda Gefter's delayed sleep phase syndrome - the true story behind Amazon's latest Modern Love episode here).

WHAT IS AN EARLY BIRD?

Early birds are big on carpe dieming. That’s casual latin for "seize the day”. They thrive first thing in the morning, usually struggle to stay up late and are more often than not classic diurnals. Early birds prefer to wake at sunrise, kicking off their work days with ease as they can concentrate better - and achieve more than most - all before midday. Reading this after your 6am Yoga class? Then you might just be getting out on the right side of the bed with 40% of the population physiologically primed to do. Here’s some characteristics that might sound familiar:

  1. You volunteered to host the Monday morning meeting. Early birds are most suited to standard working hours in corporate office environments. The downside? Although they’re up early they dip out early too. Early birds experience low energy and are more susceptible to fatigue when daylight hours wane.
  2. You’re on time, every time. Turns out catching that worm has a knock on effect throughout the day. A recent study showed that early birds are more punctual and have a greater tendency to arrive… early.
  3. Hit 10,000 steps already? On average Early birds squeeze in 20 to 30 minutes more physical activity throughout the day. More movement leads to better health and bonus (!) better sleep.
  4. Your health and wellbeing deserves a *clap back*. Researchers suggest that having a genetic predisposition to waking early may be associated with a lower risk of mental health issues and disorders like depression or schizophrenia.

WHAT IS A NIGHT OWL?

Night owls tend to begrudge waking up early - hitting snooze with abandon - and experience peak productivity after dark. Their creativity kicks in late afternoon and stretches into the evening. Sound like you? Roughly 30% of the population lean toward the ways of the Night owl, so here’s a few characteristics that might have you nodding along (instead of nodding off…)

  1. The 9 to 5 grind isn’t for you. Seriously. Night owls who push their productivity to later and later night hours (going to bed past 3am) find it increasingly difficult to thrive within standard business hours. On the upside, there’s much to be gained from maximising late peak performance hours and finding a job or industry to suit.
  2. You’re a right-brained creative type. Research shows Night owls may not only have more mental stamina but on average have more intelligence and a bigger capacity for creativity than their sunrise loving counterparts.
  3. Feeling “out of whack”? Working against your body clock can wreak havoc on your health. Medically recognised as ‘social jet lag’ the disparity between a Night owl’s preferred hours and the hours demanded by a traditional working day can result in symptoms of lethargy and disorientation. Studies also show that this asynchronous schedule can also contribute to the adoption of more unhealthy habits - putting Night owls at higher risk of addictive behaviours, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
  4. That dream or nightmare was really, really real. Night owls report more sleep issues, including chronic sleep deprivation, vivid dreams and intense nightmares.

SO WHAT’S A CHRONOTYPE TO DO?

Here’s a few easy hacks to sleep your way into a more harmonious work-life that get the thumbs up from Bill Gates:

  1. Get a routine sorted. Go to bed at the same time. Wake up at the same time. Simple, effective with all the doctor approved benefits. Just ask Jocko.
  2. Easy does it on caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Unsurprisingly, Magnesium is reportedly more beneficial for you. 
  3. Switch off those dang screens. Forget the blue light devices two hours before hitting the hay. Try reading instead. Looking for a page turner? Go the F*** to Sleep is it.
  4. Cool it... just a little. Channel your inner Goldilocks and make sure your room temperature is just right. (That's 15-19 degrees celsius for those of us living down under).
  5. Find your happy place. Any meditation app can get you there. Calm, Headspace, Noisli and Buddhify include guided sessions, sleep stories and ambient playlists that will lull you into dreamland.
  6. Let the sun shine in. Be more like Riz Ahmed and start summoning in that glorious natural light each morning. Or don’t. Let Alexa do it for you.

And failing all that? Join the new wave of remote run companies like Yarno who are serious about sleep and wellbeing. Where "outcomes, not hours" are prioritised, taking a nap is no biggie and multi-timezone team collaboration allows for fully flexible schedules. You just might find yourself in a guilt free duvet burrito on #doonaday.

Learn more with a real deal chronotype questionnaire or check out Matthew Walker’s Masterclass.

Ellie Doyle

Ellie Doyle

Ellie is the resident Yarno wordsmith. If she's not writing a million words a minute, you'll probably find her trying to smash her New York Times daily crossword time while listening to 3 podcasts at once.

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