Technology is increasing the pace of our everyday lives and the length of the day. Thomas Edison believed that people didn’t need as much sleep as they were getting, and he developed the light bulb with the belief that most people wouldn’t need to sleep. The Internet and our transition into the Information Age have expanded upon this idea. Our hustling lifestyle means that people are staying awake longer at night, getting up earlier, and getting less and less sleep.
A lack of sleep is not only counter-productive, but it is also dangerous. For example, more traffic fatalities are caused by someone falling asleep at the wheel than by drunk driving. Arming yourself with information about the importance of a good night’s sleep and applying it to your life can dramatically improve your overall health and well-being.
Have you ever…
- – driven while drowsy or even almost fallen asleep while driving?
- – felt an overwhelming sense of fatigue all day, many days in a row?
- – had a lot of trouble holding your eyes open at work?
- – made mistakes at work or school because you were too tired to think straight?
- – been easily irritated with coworkers, friends, or family members because you’re so tired?
If any of these are familiar to you, you are probably severely sleep deprived! How do you know if you are suffering from sleep deprivation? Easy. Do you need an alarm clock to wake you at your normal time in the morning? If so, you are sleep deprived.
Getting the right amount of sleep will do more for your life than any other health change you can make and is by far your most precious health habit. If you work on your sleep habits for three weeks you will say to yourself, “I never knew what feeling awake is actually like!” You will have much more energy throughout the day, will feel better, and will notice an improvement in your attitude. Plus, you will probably find that changing sleeping habits will be a bit easier than other habits you might want to change.
Here are some general guidelines to help you sleep.
- – Know your most productive time. Are you a lark, or an owl? Do you like getting up early in the morning, or staying up late? Are you more productive in the morning or late afternoon and evening?
- – Most people need at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Recent research has found that most people would do better on 10 hours. High school students should get at least 10 hours of sleep.
- – Use your bed only for sleep and/or sexual activity. Don’t watch TV in bed. Try not to even read in bed. Get your mind to associate your bed with sleep.
- – Try to get to bed 15 minutes earlier each week. After a few weeks, you will discover how much sleep you actually need.
- – Try to keep your sleep schedule on the weekend. Avoid “sleeping in.” Doing so causes the Monday morning blahs.
- – Avoid napping. If you feel that you need a nap in the day, you are not getting enough sleep at night. Napping may actually interrupt your nightly sleep cycle. If you must nap, try not to nap for longer than 20 minutes.
The holidays are right around the corner, which can often be a stressful time of year filled with hectic travel schedules, frantic party planning, and shopping. However, this is also a great opportunity to take some time to unwind and work on getting plenty of rest. Go a step further and begin implementing changes to improve your sleep habits!