By Rose Strong
Do you roll out from under the covers in the morning looking forward to the end of the day when you can crawl back into bed? Perhaps you find yourself drifting off while typing an email at work. Or maybe you’re one of those people asking for more hours in the day while trying to hold back a yawn.
You, my friend, are not alone. The United States is crawling with people who lack the proper amount of snooze time or a seriously good night’s sleep.
I don’t think you need a scientist to tell you many of us need more sleep, but, eye-opening studies on sleep and sleep disorders do abound. My eyelids get heavy during the day from losing a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row. My coworkers regularly need that extra cup of coffee in the afternoon to recharge them ‘til quitting time.
Seems our collective lack of sleep does more than just make us yawn and want a mid-afternoon nap at work. It is destructive to our health and happiness, as well as our pocketbooks.
According to a recent Washington Post article, corporate America is noticing its employees are not sleeping well. The C-suites are discovering that the lack of sleep is affecting not only employee moods, but also work accuracy and productivity. As a result, some employers have started working in sleep as a part of ‘get fit’ programs they offer to their employees – a great wellness tactic, as poor quality sleep is now linked to some major health problems such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
An article in Lehigh Valley Business by Cedar Crest College professor, Micah Sadigh, Ph.D. gives more than a few statistics based on a recent Journal of Science study that indicates that the kinds of sleep we get make a tremendous difference in how we think and problem solve.
There are many differences between non-rapid eye movement sleep – the time before deep sleep when we don’t dream and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep where we have reached the stage of deep slumber and we dream and truly rest. Making sure we achieve REM is important to our mental, psychological and physical well-being.
In trying to keep your regular sleep patterns (circadian rhythms) in good working order, here’s a helpful check list of tips for getting a good night’s rest:
- Set a regular bedtime and stick to it. Get in bed at the same time, Every. Single. Night. I know it’s hard to do. Weekends bring great temptations to think we’ll make up for lost sleep, but sticking to a set time for bed will help keep you on track to sleep well.
- Wake up at the same time every day. If you get a good, quality night’s sleep, it’s been found that you should wake up without an alarm clock. However, until you get that pattern down, keep your wake up time the same, even on weekends.
- If you need to nap, be smart about it and do it for less than an hour, midday. Napping can be refreshing and helpful, but if it affects your sleep at night consider eliminating naps.
- Turn off the TV and put the electronic devices away at least one hour before you put your head down on the pillow. Backlit devices and the television tend to suppress the production of the hormone melatonin which helps to bring on sleep.
- Sleep in a dark, cool room. A darker room is conducive to better sleep, so cover digital displays on clocks, turn off nightlights, use room darkening drapes and be sure the temperature is no higher than 65°.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and ingesting too many liquids before bed. All three can be a hindrance to quality sleep. A glass of wine or scotch on the rocks may help you to fall asleep faster, but it can cause you to wake up after a few hours and leave you tossing and turning the rest of the night. Caffeine’s effects can last as long as 10 to 12 hours after ingestion, so it might be helpful to limit it after lunch. Of course, drinking too much of any liquid can make trekking back and forth to the bathroom several times a night a true sleep disturbance.