It turns out sleep deprivation is even worse for us than we thought. In one of the largest sleep studies ever conducted, Michigan State University’s Sleep and Learning Lab found that previous sleep research has vastly undervalued the harmful impacts of sleep deprivation, and it affects us much more than previous theories have implied.

“Sleep deprivation doubles the odds of making placekeeping errors, and triples the number of lapses in attention, which is startling,” says Kimberly Fenn, Ph.D, director of Michigan State’s Sleep and Learning Lab. “Sleep-deprived individuals need to exercise caution in absolutely everything that they do, and simply can’t trust that they won’t make costly errors.”

Clearly, getting enough sleep is of utmost importance for every aspect of well-being — including your productivity. So if you feel you might be sleep-deprived, here’s a trick to improving the quality of your sleep: Putting your phone to sleep, but not in bed with you.

The irony of being plugged in all the time is that our internal batteries become drained in the process. “Cell phones, laptops, television, and other devices all require us to stare at a screen, which strains the eyes and brain, and can also cause mental and physical exhaustion,”  Dr. Yeral Patel, M.D., the CEO, founder, and lead physician at Perfect YOUth, tells Thrive. Too much screen time can also make it harder to fall asleep, potentially leading to sleep deprivation.

That’s where your Microstep comes in. First, set an alarm for thirty minutes before bedtime. This will remind you to start getting ready for bed and give you enough time to accomplish what you need to before you get some shut-eye, which may include answering outstanding emails, or anything you’d like to get out of the way before the next day. Then, it’s time to put your phone on do not disturb — and even better, remove it from your room entirely. Properly disconnecting will help improve your sleep and ability to recharge. 

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