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C.S. Lewis said, “Many things – such as loving and going to sleep – are done worst when we try the hardest to do them.”

Recent evidence suggests Lewis is right when it comes to sleep. Since 1960 chronic sleep restriction has doubled in the U.S.  In fact, according to the CDC, over one third of all U.S. adults suffer from chronic sleep restriction.

Sleep allows the body to safely ‘shutdown’ at night, restoring energy and affording the brain time to consolidate important experiences and memories. It also plays a large role in helping us recover from training sessions. Unfortunately, sleep is often viewed as expendable.

Poor sleep is associated with numerous health issues including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and increased mortality.  It can make us irritable or depressed as well as affect our memory, movement coordination, and muscle repair.

Wondering if you are sleep deprived?

Below are a few signs that you may need more sleep:

  • You wake stiff and sore, not feeling refreshed.
  • You feel sleepy throughout the day.
  • You suffer from impaired memory and concentration.
  • You toss and turn at night.
  • You have a weak immune system.
  • You need to wake to an alarm four or more days per week.

Change your routine/habits.

There is no question sleep is important. Change habits that contribute to insomnia/restless sleep including:

  • Oversleeping.
  • Use of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and sleeping pills.
  • Napping longer than 30 minutes per day.
  • Exercising within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Participating in stressful tasks within 2 hours of bedtime.

Create an ideal sleep environment.

Once bad habits are removed, it is important that we prepare for sleep properly and create an optimal environment to maximize our rest. Here are some tips:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Have a pre-sleep routine (reading, soft music, deep breathing, etc.) to help you relax.
  • Keep your room cool (60-69 degrees F), quiet, and dark.
  • Keep TV, phone, and computer out of your bedroom.
  • Switch your smart phone to night mode at least one hour before bed.
  • Use an alarm clock that does not have a snooze.
  • Use an appropriately sized, comfortable mattress.

For this week and going forward, enjoy the benefits of getting 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep each night by making these behavioral changes. You will be glad you did!