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29 minutes: The magic key to ultimate focus

Anastasia Santoreneos
·2-min read
Bearded man holding an alarm clock looking at the user.
29 minutes: The magic key to ultimate focus. Source: Getty

Do you find yourself zoning out during your work day? Struggling to focus after lunch? Looking out for your next caffeine hit when the 3pm slump hits?

If this sounds like you, it’s likely you need to sleep longer, scientists say.

In fact, sleeping for just an extra 29 minutes every night can lead to improved mindfulness, which in turn leads to better dailly well-being and better performance at work.

A Sleep Health study led by the University of South Florida found that better sleep improves next-day mindfulness, which is when one purposefully brings their awareness and attention to experiences occurring in the present moment.

“One can be awake and alert, but not necessarily mindful. Similarly, one can be tired or in low arousal but still can be mindful,” lead author and assistant professor of aging studies at USF, Soomi Lee said.

“Mindful attention is beyond just being awake. It indicates attentional control and self-regulation that facilitates sensitivity and adaptive adjustment to environmental and internal cues, which are essential when providing mindful care to patients and effectively dealing with stressful situations.”

The researchers followed 61 nurses for two weeks, and found that their “mindful attention” was greater than usual after a night of greater sleep sufficiency, better sleep quality and longer sleep duration - around 29 minutes’ worth.

How can I sleep better?

Sleep for better mindfulness is something Thrive Global CEO and founder Arianna Huffington has championed since 2007.

Two years after she founded The Huffington Post, Huffington was burnt out, stressed and sleep deprived. That led to her collapsing, hitting her head on her desk and breaking her cheekbone.

“I bought into the collective delusion that I had to be always on,” Huffington told Yahoo Finance.

“When I collapsed and was diagnosed with burnout, it got me looking at how that was a global epidemic, it wasn’t just a personal crisis.”

Now, she encourages everyone to connect with themselves through mindfulness in order to avoid reaching their own breaking point.

“You don’t need to change your whole life,” she said. “All you need to do is to introduce small tiny steps everyday, which start to build a strong, healthy muscle.”

One easy step to sleep better is to introduce a ‘social media cut-off time’.

“There’s a new term now called coronasomnia - we have a hard time sleeping because of corona anxiety, and it’s unfortunate because there’s nothing we can do at that time,” Huffington said.

“So create a transition time to sleep, so we can unwind, and recharge while we sleep.”

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