I wrote about why sleep matters recently and I apparently hit a nerve. The post quickly became one of my most popular for the entire year! It seems we are a bunch of tired people out there so I had to follow up with more information.
Did You Know?
According to WebMD sleep deprivation can really take a toll.
- Being 90 minutes short of proper sleep length can cost you 32% of your productivity the next day
- Your ability to utilize memory decreases and your ability to problem solve drops markedly (i.e., you feel dumb)
- Sleep deprivation can make you twice as likely to hurt yourself on the job
- Drowsy driving is at the root of at least 100,000 car accidents every year
- Poor sleep can disrupt quality of life; you’ll be too tired and irritable to participate
- Sleep dep costs U.S. businesses over $150 billion per year in lost productivity
Yikes! We should be doing something about this, stat!
How to Sleep Well
First, if you’ve been struggling with sleep issues for a while, you should check with your doctor to rule out a medical condition or a possible mental illness. (Depression, for instance, can cause insomnia in some people.) Once that’s been ruled out, try the suggestions below from the NIH; they have an excellent sleep center and do quite a bit of research there.
Avoid monitors / TVs / smart phones. The glow from the screens triggers our brain to stay awake longer. Make sure you turn ‘em off at least an hour before bed.
Set a routine. Go to bed at the same time every day and wake up at the same time every day. Even on weekends. Sleeping in can mess with your sleep needs too, unless you’re trying to catch up from prior sleep loss, then it’s okay.
20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day. This will help you fall asleep at night. Work out during the day, not as you near bedtime (unless it’s a few easy stretches), or you’ll wind up revving yourself back up.
Establish a bedtime routine. This could start an hour before bed; perhaps read a book, take a bath, have a cup of decaf tea, develop a ritual that signals to your body that it’s time to start shutting down for the night. You are basically employing the Pavlov’s dog effect and it works.
Wake up with the sun. Or consider trying a timed lighting alarm clock. It’s best if you can have the sun streaming into the windows to help nudge you gradually awake. I moved a few months ago and since we’ve been in our new space I have been waking up with the sunlight and it’s pretty awesome. A nice gentle way to start my day. If that’s just not possible, try the alarm clocks that work with light cues for a similar effect.
Keep the bedroom temperature controlled. Your room should be between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit for a good night’s sleep. It might take a bit of trial and error for you to find the best temperature, everyone is a little bit different. This also might result in negotiations with your significant other. Try to find a temperature you can both agree on.
Have you battled insomnia or sleep deprivation and won? What tricks did you use that worked best? I’d love to share ideas so we can all learn from each other.