If you feel that your circumstances are an exception when it comes to getting some quality shut eye, realize that sleep disorders are on the rise. It is estimated that nearly 75% of adult Americans claim to experience sleep disorder symptoms at least a few nights per week. Is this truly some type of new heath epidemic that needs medical attention, or do we just fail to find our own sleep important enough to make a stronger effort?
This may come off as old hat, but yes – sleep is still important!
An important part of starting or regaining a sleep schedule is first understanding what you’re doing to yourself by not getting enough sleep. Your body is a complex machine that evolved over millions of years to the state it is in today. Our modern coffee-swilling, go-go-go, work-until-the-crack-of-dawn-and-collapse culture has only been around for the tiniest fraction of the history of the human species. We haven’t adapted to less sleep, and we’re likely not going to adapt any time soon. You need as much sleep today as your greatest of great grandfathers needed.
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep? Everyone is familiar with the common side effects, like being tired the next day, sore muscles, and general irritability. Sleep deprivation also has a myriad of side effects you don’t see as easily as yawning or a snippy attitude. Sleep deprivation increases your risk of heart disease, impairs memory retention, increases risk of diabetes and obesity (adequate sleep is required for proper glucose processing and insulin regulation), and increases risk of depression and other mental illness, the list goes on and on. Earlier this month we shared a study with you showing that sleep deprivation is similar to being outright intoxicated. Most people would frown strongly upon someone showing up to work drunk every day, but we all act as if sleep deprivation is just the way it has to be. Sleep is a critical part of your body’s maintenance routine and depriving yourself of it is the same as running a machine with no down time for preventive care and repairs. You can do it but eventually something breaks.
What Can You Do?
Step away from the screens - Exposing yourself to the glow of a screen before bed will keep you awake. Your body is hardwired to wake up when light is bright and go to sleep when it gets dark. If you shine a bright light in your face before bed you’re telling your body it’s time to perk up and be alert. If you absolutely must use a computer or mobile device later in the day, at least turn the screen brightness way down to semi-counter the effect of the light.
Change your body temperature - Your body drops in temperature as you drift off into sleep. You can trick your body by simulating this temperature shift. In the colder months take a hot shower or bath late in the day, your body temperature will rise and then fall again as you cool off from the shower making you sleepy in the process. This induces a temperature swing that will make you sleepy.
Don’t drink anything with alcohol in it - Alcohol is a depressant and will help you get to sleep. The problem is it depresses everything in your system including your metabolism. Alcoholics report having no dreams because alcohol disrupts REM sleep, a critical sleep phase for both brain and body health.
Analyze your own sleep needs – Do you know how much sleep you actually need? Could you tell someone with certainty that you’re happiest after 7 hours of sleep? Do you wake up when the alarm goes off or do you wake up before it and turn it off on your way out of bed? There is only one good way to find out how much sleep you need and that’s going to bed earlier than you think you need to. Creep your bedtime forward by 15 minutes every few days until you start waking up on your own in the morning. When you start waking up before your alarm clock consistently—for a minimum of one week, weekends included—you’ve found your optimum sleep window.
Purge your bedroom – No computers, no television, no balancing your checkbook in bed, no reading over reports, no anything but sleeping. If you have a television in your bedroom and you never turn it on, don’t break your back hauling it down to the basement. If you’re a chronic bedroom channel-flipper however, you need to get it out of the room.
Don’t torture yourself - You didn’t drink any coffee, you turned off the computer early, you lugged the TV down to the basement, you put in ear plugs and pulled the shades, but it’s 11PM and you’re still tossing and turning. Don’t torture yourself by laying in bed frustrated. Besides getting out of bed and reading a book, you could stretch, flip through photos, or do another boring activity that can keep you busy, but relax you. Just don’t go watch television, play video games, or anything else that will stimulate your brain into thinking it is time to wake up. If you are still wide awake with energy, consider incorporating more exercise into your weekly routine.
Wake Up, Wake Up! – Waking up shouldn’t be a jarring affair that involves you smashing your fist on your alarm clock and growling. With a set routine, it is even possible to wake up without an alarm. Beating the buzzer every day is like a little victory right out of bed.
Obey the routine – No one can tell you what your perfect routine is. Maybe your routine is no coffee after 3PM, dim the lights around your apartment at 7PM, and read in bed for 20 minutes at 9PM before it’s lights out—or maybe it’s none of those things. What is important is that you find a routine that works for your schedule and you stick to it. Whatever routine you decide on, stick with it long enough to see if it works and tweak it gently and one thing at a time if it doesn’t.
Anticipate lack of sleep – Sometimes lack of sleep is one hundred percent unavoidable, but most times we see an event coming that will cut into our sleep cycle. If you know you’re going to be up late, take a power nap in the afternoon. Short term sleep deprivation can be quickly remedied with adequate rest. Don’t let a weekend throw off your sleep schedule for the rest of the month as you stay up too late and sleep in too late.
Here at iScripts.com, we believe as a business owner and entrepreneur, you need to pay extra close attention to how you treat yourself also. We want you to succeed and stay healthy. Enjoy your holiday season and know when to take it easy!