Sleep is essential for happiness and health
The importance of sleep is a given, as it’s in the news regularly, everywhere from checkout-line magazines to elite journals. But if you’re like me, sleep is one of the first things you’re willing to sacrifice when your schedule gets hectic. Why is this?
We hear again and again that skipping an extra hour of sleep does not add to our productivity; in fact, any amount of sleep deprivation can take quite a toll on our mood, our health and our cognitive abilities. One friend of mine recently mentioned that Amnesty International lists sleep deprivation as a form of torture. And yet, so many of us inflict a mild form of torture on ourselves night after night, week after week, year after year. In a recent study, 30 percent of employed U.S. adults—almost 41 million people—reported sleeping fewer than six hours per day.
Insufficient sleep can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences for fatigued workers and others around them—an estimated 20% of vehicle crashes are linked to drowsy driving. There’s even a connection between weight and sleep: People who sleep less may eat more and they’re at higher risk of obesity and diabetes.
So just how can we get more sleep? Here are a few definite tips to remember.
Go to bed and get up at roughly the same time: Even on weekends. Our internal “sleep clock” is a creature of habit and you can train it to be ready for sleep at certain times. One way to know you’re getting enough rest: you wake up naturally without an alarm (if you just laughed when you read that, you need to get more sleep!).
Make time for naps: If you’re running short on nighttime sleep, fight the urge to sleep late and instead make time for a one-hour, early afternoon nap. Doing this allows you to pay down your sleep debt without screwing up your internal sleep clock, which, as we said before, is a creature of habit.