How did you feel falling asleep last night? Did you fall right to sleep or did you lay awake struggle to get to sleep?
How did you feel when you woke up this morning? Are you refreshed or do you feel like you were run over by a truck and need to go back to bed? Are you groggy and tired until your morning cup of coffee?
Today’s post is close to me. I average roughly 5-6 hours of sleep a day. Yet this is not a solid sleep pattern, I toss turn, get up and down and struggle to sleep most nights. There are many factors that lead me to where I am personally in my sleep patterns.
Our days are packed with activities, in most cases from the minute we wake up. As our minds often fall into auto pilot, we can’t say the same for some of our bodies more sophisticated mechanisms that maintain our physiology and psychology.
Getting too little sleep can and will undermine your productivity, effectiveness & recovery needed to get ahead.
You know sleep is important, yet when you look at why you may hit a mental stumbling block in the day, become short tempered, become more irritable or simply stressed – you have to look at sleep as one of your core building blocks.
There are some core performance, health and happiness triggers associated with sleep.
- Vitality & The Brain: Neurocognitive functions are extremely vulnerable during sleep loss. Think of your short term memory, mental sharpness, ability to make crisp decisions and response times to critical thinking.
- Mood: This one hits me first. Short tempered, quick to bite back when challenged or frustrated. Sleep deprivation impairs the mood more than cognitive and physical performance. Sleep may help reduce your reaction of being an ass. Well that is what my wife tells me she notices when I sleep better.
- Stress: One of the main chemicals in your body is effected during sleep. Cortisol – remember this word as it will be very prevalent in our conversations around stress reduction and management in the future. During sleep, our levels of cortisol decrease and our body secretes more growth hormone, which is key to recovery and muscle repair. Without the proper sleep our cortisol levels remain elevated. This keeps the body at a state of alertness and keeps the blood pressure elevated. These higher levels of cortisol put the brain in an emotional rework or rewire of the circuitry that keep the brain in extended arousal.
- Weight Gain: Sleep helps our body regulate essential aspects of our metabolic system. Sleep loss studies show change in appetite, insulin release and our body’s use of glucose. With lack of sleep our bodies also produce more ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.
What can you do to get rested, sleep better and overall reap the benefits of a good night sleep?
- Stick to a sleep schedule: Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. This would include your holidays, weekends, and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep at night.
- Watch what you eat and drink before bed: Don’t over eat at dinner or go to bed hungry. The discomfort will for sure keep you up. Go pee before you hit the sheets! Try to limit how much you drink before bed, this will prevent that middle of the night pee break.
- Create a bedtime ritual: Try to do the same things each night to tell your body it’s time to wind down. By creating a consistent routine your mind and body will become accustom to shutting down. Some recommendations in this routine can include taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to music. Try these things with the lights dimmed. Relaxing activities promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.
- Unplug! Be wary of using the TV, computer or your phone as part of your bedtime ritual. Research suggests that screen time or other media use before bedtime interferes with sleep.
- Don’t stay in bed tossing and turning awake: If you can’t asleep within 30 minutes, change your environment. Go to another room, read – stay in a restful state of mind. Go back to bed when you’re tired. If you stress over falling asleep, you might find it even tougher to nod off.
You have most likely heard some of these recommendations, as this is not new information. Yet have you applied anything? Remember how the post started – How did you feel when you woke up today? If you have additional feedback on things that have worked for you, we would love to hear from you in the comments.