As a business owner, wife, and mother… I had fallen for a common myth. The myth being that busy and productive people need less sleep. For a long time I was able to trick myself into thinking that I could survive on five (or less) hours of sleep. I did this so that I had more time for just about everything else.
But it was only recently when I realized just how wrong I was. Most of us are getting far less sleep than we need. And believe it or not, lack of sleeping is affecting us in more harmful ways than we think.
An average American gets about 6 hours and 51 minutes of sleep per night. On the other hand, top performers get 8 hours and 36 minutes. That’s almost 90 extra minutes of sleep!
The effects are miraculous. Just think, if your body requires 8 hours of sleep per night and you’re waking up after 6 and a half, you’re skipping out on 90 minutes of quality sleep. According to one study, this leads to one-third of a reduction in your cognitive ability.
To break it down for you, that’s like showing up to work and having crushed a pint of beer the night before and trying to be productive for the day.
It’s not only cognition. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you’re more likely to keep access fat on your body. In any of my programs at my clinic, sleep is a key component to the recovery process. According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than 6 hours per night were 30% more likely to fall down a path of obesity. Lack of sleep is also linked to the inability of processing glucose, which increases the risks of developing type 2 diabetes.
If you’ve ever felt “burnt out” at work or school, the number one reason is probably your sleeping habits. An inconsistent sleep schedule can impact your mood. You’re more likely to be moody, and experience anxiety or depression. In fact, a 2007 study of 10,000 people with insomnia, it was found that insomnia sufferers are 500% more likely to develop depression.
And last but not least, lack of sleep dumbs you down. You learn slower, think slower and solve problems slower. Not a great state for anyone with a job that requires basic functioning to be in.
So, the golden question is – how do you get more sleep?
1. Time yourself to discover your optimal time of sleep.
This means go to bed without setting an alarm for a few days and see what time you naturally wake up. Mine is around 7 to 7.5 hours. I now set my iPhone timer to ensure that I get that amount of sleep every night. If I need to be up by 7:30 to treat patients, I’m in bed by midnight.
2. Control your coffee.
In my opinion, coffee is liquid heaven. But caffeine has a half-life of around 6 hours. Which means if you drink a cup at noon by midnight, around 25% of that caffeine is still in your system. That being said, try to not drink coffee after 2 pm. If you need more than two cups a day, make the rest decaf.
3. Shut off your electronics an hour before bed.
We are naturally glued to our electronic devices throughout the day. By keeping your mind engaged, technology can trick you into thinking that it needs to stay away. So, for a restful night of sleep, shut down your devices at least an hour before you go to bed.
4. Sleep on a very comfortable mattress.
Believe it or not, your mattress has an expiration date. 9-10 years is the typical life span for a mattress, according to the National Sleep Association. You spend 1/3 of your life in bed, so consider investing in a good mattress.
If you feel like lack of sleep is diminishing your ability to heal from any pain, injury or weakness, I’d like to offer you a free exam I will go into your problem in detail and work with you to develop a solution to get back to life you love. To claim your free exam for a LIMITED TIME ONLY, call my office and mention this article.