By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

How many times have you showed up at work exhausted, having had a terrible night’s sleep? Chances are, it probably affected your entire day—especially your productivity. That’s because a good night’s sleep is crucial to productivity, in all aspects of your life.

I’ve been there—burning the candle at both ends, thinking I can get everything done while sacrificing precious sleeping hours in the process. But the truth is, not getting enough sleep, or not getting good sleep, are detrimental to productivity and your general well-being.

You may be wondering: How exactly does sleep improve productivity? Sure, it can help with feelings of tiredness, but isn’t that all? Not even close.

Here are the main four ways sleep can improve your productivity.

1.Improved memory. Sleep is crucial for retaining information your brain has gathered throughout the day. And according to a 2007 Harvard report, the consolidation of memory that happens during your sleep is “essential for learning new information.”

2. Less chance of burnout. If you’ve ever dealt with burnout, you know the stress, exhaustion, and anxiety that comes with it. Loss of sleep is one of the causes for burnout… The more tired you are, the harder it is to concentrate, and the easier it is to slip behind and get overwhelmed. Making sure you prioritize the amount and quality of your sleep will help prevent burnout, so you can be as productive and creative as possible! Believe me when I tell you, as a career coach, the most difficult clients I’ve had are those who ran themselves into the ground with burnout. Why? Because it can take years from them to find their energy again—the effects are real.

3. Better decision-making abilities. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived workers make worse decisions, and take longer to make any sort of decision in the workplace. In fact, those who don’t get enough sleep will spend three times more of their day just working on time management.

4. Better accuracy. When your focus and concentration are sharper, your work will improve as well. But insufficient sleep doesn’t just rob you of your mental capacities — not getting proper sleep can also impair your motor skills by 50%—equal to or even worse than being under the influence!

Improving your sleep is crucial to your productivity because the restorative part of sleep, including the part that helps solidify information into your memory, takes place in the stage of sleep called rapid eye movement (REM). It’s thought to help consolidate memories, and is the stage of sleep where most dreaming takes place. REM occurs in the latter part of your sleep, meaning if your sleep is interrupted or you’re simply not sleeping enough, you’re missing out on that crucial deep sleep.

Here are three ways you can begin to improve your sleep:

  1. Stick to a schedule. Don’t try to ‘catch up’ on sleep on the weekends by sleeping hours later than you normally do on the weekdays. This can actually impair you just as much as not getting enough sleep. It may seem hard at first to not hit snooze on a Sunday, but the more you train your body to fall asleep and wake up at a certain time, the easier it will be to do so.
  2. Get more Vitamin D. The more sunlight you get during the day, the more in-sync your circadian cycles will be. This means you’ll tend to be more awake when the sun is out, and sleepy when it sets. Try opening those curtains first thing in the morning, or taking a mid-afternoon walk.
  3. Exercise in the first half of the day. If you work out earlier in the day, you’re actually energizing your body for the afternoon while helping to tire it out for later. Exercising actually decreases the amount of time it can take you to fall asleep (no more tossing and turning in the dark for an hour) and increases the length of your sleep.

So, the next time you want to talk yourself into staying up late to keep binge watching that show, or to get some more work done, remember how important sleep is to your well being and productivity. Your future self will thank you!

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  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.