Sleep, Revisited

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sleep

You can’t expect to produce great work when you’re exhausted.

Yet according to the CDC, 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep deprivation. Do you know whether you fit into that category?

If not, don’t sweat it. Sharon Picone of SleepMetro has put together a comprehensive guide that includes everything you could possibly want to know about sleep habits and how to get a better night’s rest.

According to Picone, you may be suffering from sleep deprivation if you’ve experienced any of the following:

  • You have mood swings and are stressed out. If you’re suffering from irritability, agitation, anxiety and depression, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough sleep.
  • You experience a profound lapse in judgment. When you’re sleep deprived, it’s considerably harder to think clearly. This causes you to make decisions you ordinarily wouldn’t.
  • Your health has taken a turn for the worse. Your immune system gets weaker when you’re sleep deprived. If you notice you’re getting sick often, you may need to sleep a lot more.
  • You notice an increase in appetite and gain weight. Sleeping restores our energy. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body looks to other sources for energy. You get hungrier and fatter.
  • Your productivity declines. When you’re exhausted, you can’t focus. This makes work much more difficult. If you’ve noticed a significant dip in your productivity, you’re likely sleep deprived.
  • You feel exhausted during the day. If you’re having a hard time keeping your eyes open at your desk, you probably need to sleep more.
  • You have troubling remembering things or speaking. It’s a lot more difficult to pay attention when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in quite some time.
  • Your eyesight starts to worsen. Fatigue makes it harder for you to focus on things because it’s harder to control your eye muscles.
  • You have a problem with your motor skills. If you are constantly stumbling, bumping into things, or falling down stairs, you may be suffering from sleep deprivation.
  • You don’t want to get it on. The National Sleep Foundation says we lose our sex drive when we’re suffering from exhaustion.

Does any of that sound familiar?

The good news is that if you suspect you’re sleep deprived, all hope is not lost. You can make proactive changes to the way you approach sleep to get a better night’s rest each night. As a result, you’ll be healthier, more focused and more coordinated—which should make you a more effective worker.

Here are some tips to help you become well-rested.

Identify your sleep type

According to Picone, those who don’t get enough sleep generally fall into one of three categories:

  • The Worrier: Are you the type of person who’s constantly tossing and turning in bed, thinking about all of the tasks on your plate in the coming days? This type of insomnia, Picone says, is stress-related. The good news is that there’s an easy fix to the problem. Jot down all the things you’re worrying about and tell yourself you’ll worry about them during the day tomorrow. Focus on your breathing and try to relax.
  • The Overstimulated: If you are particularly busy all the time and don’t have a schedule that’s consistent, you may fall into this category. The overstimulated sleeper tends to lose track of time. Maybe you are out at the bar catching up with an old friend and all of a sudden four hours disappear. Maybe you get into bed on time and lose yourself in a book for a few hours. If this sounds familiar, you need to force yourself to go to sleep at a very specific time.
  • The Night Owl: Some of us feel as though we’re on the top of our game at night. Night owls are more alert and more focused when the sun goes down. They also have more energy. If you’re a night owl, try to force yourself to get into bed early. Turn off your television and don’t stare at any electronics.

By identifying your sleep type, you can make serious progress with respect to breaking the cycle of sleep deprivation.

Align your sleep pattern with your age

Experts say you’re supposed to get different amounts of sleep depending on how old you are. Newborns, toddlers, and kids in grade school require the most shuteye. It’s recommended that those in high school get 8–10 hours of sleep. Once you enter adulthood, the experts say you need 7–9 hours of sleep. Once you retire, you can get by with 7 or 8 hours.

Believe it or not, research also suggests there’s a “perfect time” for each age group to wake up. When you’re in your 20s, try to get out of bed at 9:30. In your 30s, get up at 8. In your 40s, hop out of bed at 7:30. In your 50s, wake up at 7. Once you’re in your 60s, get up at 6:30.

Of course, that’s speaking generally. Find your own circadian rhythm and do your best to stick to it.

Practice mindfulness

Studies show that mindfulness can help us eliminate stress from our lives—or at least reduce it. At a very basic level, mindfulness teaches us to focus on the present moment and do our best to ignore external stressors.

By practicing mindfulness, you should be able to leave your worries in the other room when you lie down in your bed at night.

How you and your kids can sleep more

If you have kids, you know how difficult it can be to keep your sleep patterns steady. But there are still ways you can get a better night’s sleep—and get your children in the habit of doing the same.

Set up a bedtime routine that doesn’t include sugar. Try to get everyone on a consistent sleep schedule. Don’t let your kids use technology before bed. Create the best sleep environment you can for all of your kids. In the event they are ever concerned about the monster that lives under the bed, let them know that no such thing exists.

With the right approach, you should be able to ensure a good night’s sleep for the whole family.

To learn more about how you can get the best night’s sleep of your life—including tips on the habits you should develop, the foods you should eat, and the exercises you should do—head over to SleepMetro.

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