If you think, “I will sleep when I am dead,” consider that this mentality may get you there sooner.
Sleep is often the first thing to be discarded when life gets busy. Kids, life, work, relationships, and exercise get attended to first and sleep is discarded. It should be a nonnegotiable, right up there with good hygiene. However, it is oftentimes discarded like leftover French fries. What is the reason for the ambivalence about sleep? Maybe it is because in the American workaholic culture, it appears that nothing important is happening while sleeping. The truth is your body is repairing and rejuvenating. You are not wasting time by sleeping. In fact, you are likely increasing your productivity by being well-rested and not feeling continually lost in a dense, sleepy fog.
Sleep is when the brain recharges. It is like a reset button for the body. Enough sleep can boost creativity, lift your mood, sharpen attention, improve your performance, and make you a better person to be around by decreasing irritability. It will improve your immune system, make you less susceptible to disease, and decrease risks for heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain. Adequate sleep is pretty much awesome. Plus, it may very realistically increase your personal safety by simply decreasing car accidents. One hundred thousand accidents a year are estimated to be caused by drowsy driving.
“Without enough sleep, we all become tall two year olds.”
– JoJo Jensen, Dirt Farmer Wisdom
Fresh Ideas to Extend Your Expiration Date
Restructure your life to achieve seven to nine hours of sleep a night. This is often the biggest challenge. Sleep is decreased in order to achieve more things; however, sleeping more may actually improve your performance and increase your concentration and efficiency. Say yes only to the important things. Sleep is one of those important things.
Set a time to go to bed and a time to wake up every day. Your body secretes certain hormones to help you go to sleep and hormones to help you wake up. Get your body in a rhythm. A lack of a structured schedule can feel like perpetual jet lag.
Declutter the room you sleep in so it’s a restful place where your body can wind down. Dim the lights and have a no-electronics zone one hour before you go to bed: no TVs, laptops, video games, phones, or other lighted devices. Our bodies used to go to sleep with the sun and wake up with it. Create the environment by setting the “sleep mood.”
If the inability to fall asleep is one of your challenges, try relaxation techniques, such as progressive relaxation, guided sleep imagery, or deep relaxation at umm.edu/sleep /relax_tech.htm.
Don’t go any longer without getting restful, quality sleep. A website for designing optimal sleep environments is found at bedroom.sleepfoundation.org.
Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, by Michael Breus, PhD, contains sleep information, including a fourweek sleep boot camp with a different direction every day.
No More Sleepless Nights, by Peter Hauri, PhD, and Shirley Linde, PhD, is a slightly less recent publication but a great book if you have a more difficult time falling asleep.