I have heard so many people downplay the need for sleep.  Do you know how much sleep you really need?

We all have times when we have been sleep deprived.  When I am sleep deprived I find that I am less focused and more easily distracted.  American film, television actor, and musician Thomas Dekker said, “Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”

I had the distinct privilege to hear the Associate Director of Vanderbilt’s Clinical Research Center, Director of Clinical Research for the Department of Neurology, and Director of Vanderbilt’s Sleep Division and Sleep Research Core Dr. Beth Malow speak to our Rotary club a few Wednesday’s ago.  She discussed the importance of sleep and suggestions for getting more sleep.  Her personal and didactical research revealed interesting findings that I would like to share with you.  

In Dr. Malow talk, she spoke about several cognitive deficits of sleep loss such as:

- Decreased concentration

- Decreased short-term memory

- Decreased flexible thinking

- Poor insight and performance

Along with these cognitive deficits, there are also negative mood states that could affect your performance such as:

- Sleepiness

- Fatigue

- Irritability

- Loss of vigor

- Confusion

- Inability to cope

- Burnout    

Are you suffering from any of these symptoms?  Maybe you are suffering from sleep deprivation.  If you are you running low on sleep, it may be time for you to catch up on your sleep.

You can only go so far on a half of tank of gas.  When we are sleep deprived, our productivity and performance has limitations.  You may already be doing well with your career with little sleep, but what would your life look like if you took the recommendation of the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Malow, and other health experts advocating for seven to nine hours of sleep a day.  So why not refuel yourself in areas in which you are depleted when it comes to sleep?

Tips for Getting More Sleep

There are many ways to catch up on your sleep.  Here are a few traditional and creative ways to replenish get the rest you need and build the success your life deserves.

1.    Develop regular sleep and wake times.  Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day leads to better sleep cycles.  This will help synchronize your “biological” clock, which will help you develop a more regular sleep pattern.

2.    Exercise more.  Consistent exercise has many benefits and better sleep is one of the benefits.  The regularity with your exercise will help to deepen your sleeps, which will decrease the amount of sleep disruptions.

3.    Take naps.  If you are not getting a full night of sleep, it is not a bad idea to take a nap or two if you are able.  I’m not suggesting for you to go to sleep on your job.  However, if you have idle times, take advantage of that time and take a power nap.

4.    Adjust your sleep accommodations.  Does your body prefer a firm or soft mattress?  Do you sleep with one, two, or three pillows?  What temperature is the room you sleep in?  What noises are audible in your sleeping space?  All these things matter.  If you are uncomfortable while sleeping, you will not get the best sleep.  Whatever you do, please do your due diligence of testing each variable before spending a lot of money to fix an issue that may not be the reason why you are sleep deprived.

5.    Eat and drink right.  You want to avoid eating greasy or “heavy” foods.  These types of food can disturb your sleep.  Also, you will want to avoid excessive liquids, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol.

6.    Decompress your stress.  We are all busy and have many things to do.  Set a designated time before you go to bed to deal with any issues of the day.  If you cannot deal with all your problems, try to deal with those things that cause you the most stress first.  Taking your problems to bed will likely disrupt your sleep.

7.    Disconnect from technology.  There is nothing wrong with technology in itself.  However, research has revealed that the light from our computers, phones, etc. disrupts our sleep when we engaged with the devices right before going to bed.  The light in these devices stimulates a portion of our brain that keeps us awake.

What do you need to do to get more sleep?  Please leave a comment below, send me a tweet on Twitter, or leave a comment on Facebook.


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