Sleep Loss Is New Epidemic
Many people brag about how little they sleep. Some sleepy heads regard
people who get eight hours of snoozing in a night as slackers. Latest studies show sleeplessness is a big health, productivity
and stress risk factor. Sleep deprivation affects safety, decision making, reflexes, mood, anger, and the immune system. Sleeplessness
can interfere with weight loss, too.
What you can do.
- Get a checkup. Let your doctor know about your sleeplessness - not so you
can get drugs, but so you can be checked for physical problems that could be inhibiting sleep.
- Leave work at work. If you work at home, don't let work spill over into
home and family time. Easy to say. Hard to do. Visualize a gate you walk through at the end of your work day. See yourself
closing the gate on work. Lock the gate. Don't unlock the work gate until the next morning.
- Watch that internet habit. Turn off your computer. Don't check your e-mails
just one more time before going to bed. You know that can trigger another hour exploring how Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston
are getting along. OK. Some of you would never do that. You're too busy ascertaining the latest Braves or Mets stats.
- Develop a bedtime routine. For instance, warm bath, warm milk, jot down
5 positive thoughts, read 15 minutes, turn out the lights. Sleep tight.
- Keep regular hours. Try to go to bed at the same time and get up at the
same time every day. Getting up at the same time is most important. Getting bright light, like the sun, when you get up will
- Eat carbs such as pasta at dinner.
- Stay away from stimulants like caffeine. This will help you get deep sleep
that is most refreshing. If you take any caffeine, imbibe it in the morning. Avoid all stimulants in the evening, including
caffeinated sodas, and caffeinated teas. Stimulants, including nicotine, will delay sleep and increase reawakening during
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime. It may help you fall asleep, but then it has
a backlash effect. It can also make snoring worse.
- Use the bed just for sleeping and "cuddling." Avoid watching TV, paying
bills, using laptop computers, or reading in bed. Bright light from these activities may inhibit sleep. The subject matter
of these activities can keep your mind buzzing, too. If it helps you to read before sleep, make sure you use a very small
wattage bulb to read. A 15 watt bulb should be enough. Don't read something disturbing. The Shining is not a good choice.
- Avoid bright light around the house before bed. Using dimmer switches in
living rooms and bathrooms before bed can be helpful. (Dimmer switches can be set to maximum brightness for morning routines.)
- Don't stress out if you feel you are not getting enough sleep. Worrying
about not sleeping can keep you up at night. Know you will sleep eventually.
- Avoid rigorous exercise near bedtime.
- Don't go to bed hungry. Have a light snack, avoid a heavy meal before bed.
Warm milk does help you sleep. Put a little chocolate syrup in the milk if the idea of warm milk sends you searching for a
barf bag. There isn't that much caffeine in a tablespoon of syrup.
- If you can't get to sleep after 30 minutes, get out of bed and do something
boring in dim light until you are sleepy.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
- If you have problems with noise in your environment you can use a white
noise generator. A fan will work.
- If you have a sleeping partner, ask him or her if they notice any snoring,
or pauses in your breathing. If you have any concerns, see your doctor.
There is nothing heroic about getting by on little sleep. You're damaging
your health, work and relationships. Sweat dreams.
Karen Susman, Speaker/Author/Coach, works with organizations and individuals
that want to maximize their performance and quality of life. Check out her free tips and articles at www.karensusman.com