We often don’t realize how much our sleeping habits impact our lives. It’s different from feeling hungry or thirsty because we can always have another cup of coffee or energy drink and try to power through. The focus on exhausting ourselves in the name of money is so ingrained in our culture that fatigue tends to be something we praise.
Most adults get fewer than the recommended eight hours of sleep, but even more is recommended for some people. In our modern, fast-paced world, we need to recognize that a good night’s sleep is just as important as a healthy diet for our lifestyles.
1. Short-term Goals, Long-Term Problems
You really need to get that report finished, so you stay up late and make sure it’s done. You want to keep having fun over the weekend and figure you can catch up on sleep later. You’re thinking in the short-term and building up a debt that will need to be paid sooner or later.
Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to an entire host of problems, including obesity, diabetes, and even early mortality. A Chinese man with the pseudonym Jiang Xioshan died earlier this year after 11 days without sleep. Even though it seems like it isn’t a big deal at the time, denying yourself good sleep can cause cumulative damage.
Try to think ahead and make sure you are getting enough rest to feel refreshed every day. There are new sleep innovations coming to the forefront of the media and you may find they work for you. Try to make a good night’s sleep a priority.
2. Dangerous Lack of Concentration
When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re not your best. Your mind is slow and sluggish. This can cause catastrophic problems if you get behind the wheel of a car or other heavy machinery. Delivery driver Malkit Chukria was involved in a fatal crash, killing Aaron Ryan, because he was working 17-hour days with little sleep.
It’s also going to reflect extremely poorly on your work performance, because an employee that cannot focus is not of much use to anyone. Caffeine is not the answer to this issue as it gives rise to other health risks and is not a good replacement for a decent night’s sleep. If you don’t sleep enough you can also become depressed and experience mood swings because of the way lack of rest interacts with the body’s hormones.
If you want to impress the boss and work efficiently, making sure you get eight hours of shut-eye is a more reliable method than downing coffee all day long.
3. Poor Sleep Costs Money
We never like to take a hit in the pocketbook, but studies show that $411 billion dollars in productivity is lost every year in the United States due to lack of sleep. This is a problem for employees and employers alike. Since poor sleeping habits lead to a multitude of health problems and extreme distraction in the workplace, employees should be getting regular sleep.
The idea that pushing yourself hard to show determination is a false one, because lack of rest is detrimental in the workplace and at home. If the problem gets out of hand, you may even lose your job, so make sure you’re taking the time to unplug from the world and get the rest you need.
4. Undoing Bad Habits
Some people would like to get their allotted amount of sleep every night, and are not sleepless by choice. Many people have difficulty dozing off. You might be helped by changing some bad habits you’ve acquired before bed. Our lives are constantly connected to our telephones and laptops, but the artificial light is something our bodies don’t understand.
Turn off these devices at least ½ hour before bed to get your body back into its natural circadian rhythms. It’s also a good idea not to eat just before bed because your body will be spending time trying to digest food while it’s supposed to be letting you sleep.
Eating before bed is also a good way to gain weight so this is a habit best avoided if possible. One trick many people use is meditation to help them fall asleep. An example would be imagining your body slowly turning to wood, starting with the toes. As soon as you convince yourself this is happening, you move on up your legs and to the rest of the body.
Most people find that they never get much further than the torso and they are waking up the following morning fully refreshed and ready for the day. There are many other tips and tricks for falling asleep that might work for you.
Our sleeping habits tend to leave something to be desired in today’s world of work. Industrious activity tends to be rewarded, but we need to remember that our work is only as good as our ability to do it. We are not going to do our best work if we are fatigued, and we need to take care of ourselves first and foremost. Your health and happiness depends on a good night’s sleep.
Alex Moore is a sleep researcher and sleep products reviewer for Side Sleeper Guide. His expertise in side snoozing is often shared on Twitter as well. Be sure to follow Alex @AlexMoore01.
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