We spend one third of our lives sleeping, yet many of us take the need to sleep for granted- and in today’s 24/7 society, that means we are becoming a chronically sleep deprived one.
So how much sleep do we need?
For a typical healthy adult you need at least 7 to 9 hours of consolidated sleep. When we are frequently getting less than that we are more prone to future health problems and a shorter life expectancy.
Is how we live the only contributing factor in our accumulating sleep debt? Why is today’s society such a chronically overtired one?
We Don’t Realize We Need To Make the Change
When we look at the three pillars of health: sleep, exercise, and nutrition, it’s easy for us to see that we need to eat better or workout more, but because we already sleep everyday we don’t know that we may not be sleeping enough or getting the right amount of quality and restorative sleep.
It’s difficult to start meeting our sleep needs better when we don’t realize we have to.
Chronic Sleep Loss Affects Our Judgment
This frequent loss of sleep goes unnoticed by many and it begins to impair our own judgment on our personal sleep needs. Imagine you’ve been drinking. You have drunk enough where now your judgment is impaired. You don’t think you’re drunk, but you are. You think the guy at the bar is pretty cute, but he’s not. When we aren’t meeting our personal baseline of sleep consistently it’s like we are pouring ourselves another drink but instead of getting drunk our sleep debt builds even more. We become so chronically sleep deprived that we actually feel okay on less sleep. We adapt to our sleep deprivation but that doesn’t mean we are okay, and our mental alertness and performance will continue to go downhill.
We are Overscheduled and Always Connected
Sleep is never the priority. We work long hours, we have our own schedules to manage and our children’s schedules to manage and it becomes impossible to take one day off.
We need to stop wearing lack of sleep as a badge of honour.
We think we are better workers if we sacrifice our sleep to work more hours. We believe we are better parents if we sacrifice our sleep to tend to every need of our child’s, but at the end of the day we aren’t doing ourselves and more importantly our family unit any favours. Put sleep in your schedule.
We also need to turn tech off and keep it out of the bedroom. Establish a Tech Curfew at least one hour before bedtime. Turn off the TV, the internet, the iPad, and your phones. The blue LED light from the screen can really over stimulate the brain and turn the sleep switch off. It suppresses melatonin and makes it difficult for you to fall asleep. So 60 minutes before bedtime, 90 minutes if you can do it turn off tech. Establish a docking station in your home for all your family members devices that is not in your bedrooms.
Make sleep a priority in your life. For every hour lost of sleep it takes 24 hours to recover. Start slowly by going to bed 30 minutes earlier every night and start chipping away at that sleep debt.
Seriously…just go the f*#@ to sleep.