I have not yet met anyone who complains that they regularly get too much sleep! Indeed a large proportion of the population seems to take pride in the fact that they get too little sleep. Taken to extremes some even boast at how little sleep they are able to get, as if this somehow makes what they do with their waking hours more important!
Surveys conducted by the NSF (1999-2004) reveal that at least 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more.
But what impact does this lack of proper rest have on your effectiveness?
Driving while tired has been shown to be more dangerous than driving under the influence of pot! (No I am not endorsing illegal substances!)
Sleep deprivation is bad news!
According to psychologist and sleep expert David F. Dinges, Ph.D. irritability, moodiness and disinhibition are some of the first signs a person experiences from lack of sleep. If a sleep-deprived person doesn’t sleep after the initial signs, the person may then start to experience apathy, slowed speech and flattened emotional responses, impaired memory and an inability to be novel or multitask. As a person gets to the point of falling asleep, he or she will fall into micro sleeps (5-10 seconds) that cause lapses in attention, nod off while doing an activity like driving or reading and then finally experience hallucinations, the beginning of REM sleep.
You need to be well rested to make good decisions
Dr. Timothy Roehrs, the Director of research at the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit paid sleepy and fully alert subjects to complete a series of computer tasks. At random times, they were given a choice to take their money and stop. Or they could forge ahead with the potential of either earning more money or losing it all if their work was not completed within an unknown remainder of time.
He found that the alert people were very sensitive to the amount of work they needed to do to finish the tasks and understood the risk of losing their money if they didn’t. But the sleepy subjects chose to quit the tasks prematurely or they risked losing everything by trying to finish the task for more money even when it was 100 percent likely that they would be unable to finish.
Now think about how this applies to you – How well rested are you? What impact is that having on your effectiveness?
According to leading sleep researchers, there are techniques to combat common sleep problems:
- Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule
- Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use
- Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you awake in the night
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep
- Get regular exercise
- Minimize noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures where you sleep
- Develop a regular bed time and go to bed at the same time each night
- Try and wake up without an alarm clock
- Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for certain period; this will ensure that you’re getting enough sleep
At the end of the day, we all have different needs for rest, the traditional 8 hours is only an average. But there is a tendency for us all to assume we are one of the superheroes that need less sleep. It is convenient for us to think this way because it “buy’s” us extra time in the day.
Be honest with yourself – are you operating at your peak?
Try going to bed an hour earlier every night for a week and see what difference it makes to you.
What are your tips for getting regular rest?