Do you remember what it was like to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up feeling well-rested? If those days seem long gone, then read on because it’s never too late to adopt good sleep habits that can help you get the rest your body needs to function.
Let’s start by focusing on what actually happens when we don’t sleep enough. Not sleeping well or enough can cause noticeable impairment in cognitive and physical performance. Short-term sleep deprivation, aside from making one grumpy and foggy, can cause impaired attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving – all things we need to do our job properly. If you suffer from a sleeping disorder, which can be very serious, lack of sleep can contribute to symptoms of depression, lead to premature aging, and stimulate appetite and cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. And this one should wake you up: lack of sleep can decrease libido! Chronic sleep deprivation has also been associated with numerous serious medical disorders, such as heart disease and stroke, obesity, diabetes, ADHD and depression, injury from accidents, and an overall increase in mortality.
Now that we know all the things that can happen when we don’t sleep enough, what can we do about it? For best results, establish a nightly bedtime routine. Start by darkening your room as much as possible, turn off screens (e.g., TVs, phones, iPads, etc.) and try to relax at least 30 minutes before bed. A warm shower or bath, practicing breathing techniques and stretching can also help you relax before bed. Pay attention to factors that can interfere with quality sleep, including consumption of caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. And lastly, don’t exercise too close to sleep time.
To maximize your performance and feel more energized at work, make good sleep habits part of your everyday lifestyle. Start by making small changes and turn those changes into a routine. Practice truly does make perfect. Have a good night and sweet dreams!
This blog was written by Oriana Perez, MPH, CHES, a health educator with Prisma Health Business Health.