“Getting enough sleep doesn’t mean that you are giving up your goals or your desire to achieve and succeed—on the contrary, it makes you more effective…it’s a performance enhancer” Arianna Huffington
We are all told that we must get enough sleep and not stay up all night working on a project. But how much does this really have an impact on our lives?
Arianna Huffington has been on a mission to educate the public on the importance of sleep ever since she collapsed from exhaustion in 2007. Her recent book The Sleep Revolution discusses sleep right back to the Industrial Revolution until today. Arianna speaks of how much harder it is in today’s society with the increase in technology to separate from the office & switch off.
Many people view sleep as "down time," when their brains shut off and their bodies rest. Many of us cut back on sleep, thinking it won't be a problem, because other responsibilities or projects seem much more important. But research shows that a number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help people stay healthy and function at their best.
While you sleep, your brain is hard at work forming the pathways necessary for learning, creating memories and new insights. Without enough sleep, you can't focus and pay attention or respond quickly. A lack of sleep may even cause mood problems. Growing evidence shows that a chronic lack of sleep can also increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infections.
"The irony is that a lot of people forego sleep in the name of productivity, but in fact our productivity is reduced substantially when we're sleep deprived."
So to get a better night’s sleep we have put together some top tips;
- Stick to a sleep schedule.
Create a routine and go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. As creatures of habit, people have a hard time adjusting to changes in sleep patterns.
- Exercise is great, but not too late in the day.
Try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days but not later than 2—3 hours before your bedtime. The high adrenaline, increased brain activity, and a difficulty “winding down,” can affect how you sleep.
- Don't take naps after 3 p.m.
Naps can help make up for lost sleep, but late afternoon naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
- Relax before bed.
Don't overschedule your day so that no time is left for unwinding. A relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music, should be part of your bedtime ritual. Don’t forget to not turn off your phones well before you go to sleep.
- Take a hot bath before bed.
The drop in body temperature after getting out of the bath may help you feel sleepy, and the bath can help you relax and slow down so you're more ready to sleep.
- Have a good sleeping environment.
Get rid of anything in your bedroom that might distract you from sleep, such as noises, bright lights, an uncomfortable bed, or warm temperatures. You sleep better if the temperature in the room is kept on the cool side. A TV, cell phone, or computer in the bedroom can be a distraction and deprive you of needed sleep. Having a comfortable mattress and pillow can help promote a good night's sleep. Individuals who have insomnia often watch the clock. Turn the clock's face out of view so you don't worry about the time while trying to fall asleep.
- Have the right sunlight exposure.
Daylight is key to regulating daily sleep patterns. Try to get outside in natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes each day. If possible, wake up with the sun or use very bright lights in the morning. Sleep experts recommend that, if you have problems falling asleep, you should get an hour of exposure to morning sunlight and turn down the lights before bedtime.
So in the words of Arianna Huffington...