Is Sleep Overrated?

Is Sleep Overrated?

Are you getting less sleep than you need believing it’s normal?

Sleep – that oft times elusive commodity – can make or break your day, depending on how many hours you managed to garner. For some people who get little sleep and have to perform high demand tasks day after day, the common comment heard is this: “Sleep? It’s Over-rated”.

But is it?

After all, most of us are very aware of the eight to ten hours of sleep priority and we know that a good night’s sleep is really important – but few of us ever experience it consistently. The phenomenon of “sleep debt” has left many people with a hazy memory of what being truly rested feels like. And, just to make matters a little more interesting, the myriad interferences to our circadian rhythm caused by stimulants like coffee, alarm clocks, lights (including our devices) compound the situation.

It is true, though, that lifestyle and health impact individuals’ sleep needs. In order to know how much sleep you need, you’ll need to know where you fall on the “sleep needs spectrum” as well as check out what factors inherent in your lifestyle affect the amount and quality of your less – that would include your work schedule, stress levels, diet and exercise.

So, How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

I spent some time at sleepfoundation.org where I happened upon their recommended sleep times chart, which you can access here: https://sleepfoundation.org/sites/default/files/STREPchanges_1.png
According to their site, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how much sleep people need specifically, but they’ve created the above chart that indicates minimum and maximum ranges for health along with “recommended” windows of time – general rules that have been agreed upon by experts.
They do suggest that before you can find the number that most closely relates to your particular sleep needs, it’s important to assess how different amounts of sleep affect you. Below is their set of questions to ask yourself before you check the chart:

  • Are you productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality ZZZs to get you into high gear?
  • Do you have health issues such as being overweight? Are you at risk for any disease?
  • Are you experiencing sleep problems?
  • Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
  • Do you feel sleepy when driving?

Improve your health by making sleep a Priority

How do you make sleep a priority? Well, first of all you have to assess your own particular needs and habits around sleep. Observe how you respond to various amounts of sleep. If you’ve had a poor night’s sleep, check in with your mood and energy levels then compare them to times when you’ve had a great night’s sleep. A good question to ask is, “How frequently do I actually get a good night’s sleep?”

There are a few tips given by the Sleep Foundation that can help you achieve better sleep:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule, even on weekends.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine.
  • Turn off electronics before bed.

The most important take-away is to make sleep a priority. Schedule it the same way you’d schedule any other activity; put it on your “to-do list” and be sure to cross it off at night. Don’t make sleep an afterthought, something you get around to when everything else is taken care of. Stop the activities in order to get the sleep you need. You might even find you enjoy life more.

 

 

beach-chair-daylight

People have forgotten how to relax; how to be lazy, wind down and enjoy life.

Have you noticed the extreme emphasis placed on productivity, efficiency (or should I say hyper-efficiency), on wringing every ounce of production out of every last minute?

It seems most people have lost the fine art of relaxation … the joy has gone out of life and the very thought of being disconnected from their technology makes them break out in hives.

Check out some of the latest reading material – bestselling books, magazines, blogs and YouTubes on productivity and efficiency and note how many of them give you tips and ideas on how to get the most out of any time you may have to spend waiting (in line; in the doctor’s office; in traffic; the airport – you get the idea), how to maximize your energy in the least amount of time possible, how to use your commute time to really get things done, how to get more out of your workday, how to create a super-effective meeting, and on it goes …

People are constantly checking their iPhones, inboxes, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook in a bid to get more done during their longer working hours.

So, tell me – to what end?

Is it about making more money for ourselves or our corporations? Are we trying to hold on to our jobs, the jobs we might want to quit anyway?

I suppose it is possible we’re trying to get everything (and then some) done for the love of doing it, and if that’s so, then Great! However; pounding out long hours working and putting life and rest on hold isn’t necessarily the best idea. There really are times when it’s good to Do Less, relax and breathe.

So, How Do We Do That?

Obviously, most of us understand the concept of working long hours in order to be productive and get things done. But, what if there was another way? What if it turns out to be working on important things, creating brilliant things and then relaxing?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating spending the day surfing the web or vegging in front of Netflix, or even napping all day … yet, on the other hand, why not? Why not take a delicious nap? How about a long lunch and a little siesta? Why not sit on a park bench with a good book?
Why not just enjoy those days when productivity seems elusive?

While it’s important for many of us that we earn what we need in order to pay the bills, being obsessive about productivity is not especially healthy. When you can’t seem to get things going and you’re not feeling productive, let it go – take a breather and stop beating yourself up with guilt.
You know, some of the major companies are incorporating nap time into the work schedule of their staff. Check this article out that appeared in the prestigious Forbes Magazine:
It’s Time To Start Taking Naps At Work
It’s totally Zen. If you take the time to relax and refresh, you’re far more productive than if you push through with little sleep and a lot of stress.

We Need to Learn How to Relax

The really sad news is that I even have to write this part of the blog. Most of us don’t have a clue how to relax. We get so upset at the thought of stopping and getting less done instead of more, that we can’t even wrap our brains around relaxation.

If you’re one of the rare individuals who actually does know how to relax but is feeling guilty about it, I encourage you to let the guilt go. Relaxing is good for you and actually makes you more productive.

But for those of you who have forgotten how to relax, you’re going to have a tougher time. Here’s a hint: don’t stress out about it. If you don’t know how to relax, it’s OK. Breathe. Take it slowly –

One step at a time …

  • Take 5 minutes to go outside for a walk. Breathe the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to do things. More time means less rush.
  • After work, get outside, take in nature and run around if you can.
  • Play. Play like a child. Play with a child. Play when you work.
  • Give yourself a day off. Sleep. Watch TV. Eat bonbons.
  • At work, give yourself an hour off. Don’t try to be productive. Just have fun.
  • Take evenings off. Seriously, no working in the evenings.
  • Get a massage.
  • Breathe.
  • Watch your pets – they have it mastered.

And, here’s the Zen of it all:

Step by step, learn to relax. Learn that productivity isn’t everything. Creating is great, but you don’t need to fill every second with work. When you do work, get excited, pour yourself into it, work on important, high-impact tasks … and then relax.