December 2017 Educate

Are You Sleeping?


Written By: Nadia Alcide, founder, simply sociable

Sleep is a nice reset button for us. When we get proper sleep with little or no distraction, it effectively enters us into a meditative and stoic state. It quiets the flight or fight work in our bodies.

Our high achievement society has afforded us the ability to stay ahead in our work but it also comes at a cost to our long-term health and longevity. How many times have you heard a friend or colleague say, “I only got x hours of sleep last night.”

Usually the smaller the number, the larger the proverbial badge of honor. Many of us are guilty of hearing a statement like this from someone, who we assume, has it way together as a life hack to stay ahead of the pack. We assume because we are programmed to believe shaving from sleep obligations can push you further than your competition. The interesting thing about such an achievement concept is that it is not a sustainable practice for the long term. Repeat this with me: Sleep debt is not like monetary debt, you cannot catch up. It catches up with you.

Our sleep practices in America are so poor that in a CDC study, it was considered a nationwide epidemic. We aren’t too keen on taking time to rest because we’ve been programmed to feel anxious about missing out of the next best opportunities due to our time spent sleeping. Not until recently have studies been published to provide evidence of what a lack of proper sleep can do to the human body and its ability to remain healthy despite the constant environmental toxins we encounter on a daily basis.

So, why do we sleep and why is it so important to our wellbeing? Sleep allows us to recover from the day’s activities, physical and mental. Pretty sure if you’ve had a tough day, all you wanted to do was to hit the bed or find the nearest place to catch some z’s. Sleep is a nice reset button for us. When we get proper sleep with little or no distraction, it effectively enters us into a meditative and stoic state. It quiets the flight or fight work in our bodies.

Researchers recommend we get about 8 hours of sleep per night. You might be saying, well that just isn’t possible. I’m an executive, a business owner, a parent, a student or a combination of all of those things. We all get 24 hours in a day, consider how little time 8 hours is in comparison to the 24 we are provided with each day. That’s only 33% of your day. Take the time to manage your time and prioritize the essentials. Since we are majorly distracted and have constant FOMO (fear of missing out), set a time about an hour or two before bed to power down your devices and screens. This exercise programs your brain to get into an environment for optimal sleep.

Did you know we process how we feel in terms of intoxication and sleep is a similar concept to that? Almost like someone who’s had a few drinks at a bar and thinks they’re fine to drive, but as spectators we know better to allow them to do so, sleep is that same way. With factors like sleep and intoxication, we are for some reason very subjective when evaluating ourselves. We do ourselves a disservice thinking we are just fine when we are really a semi-functioning shell. Right now, we, generally speaking, are in an under slept state. Our deficit leads to a shorter life and a myriad of diseases. Sadly, there are too many to mention but diabetes, frequent colds and heart disease are a few.

What about all the coffee drinkers out there who rely on that cup of joe to function in the morning or even throughout the day? It’s not horrible as long as there isn’t dependency, but we all know better. Sure, you feel energized for a short time but what caffeine is doing is masking your sleepiness when what you should really do is invest in consistent and proper nights of sleep.

Aside from sleep being one of the keys to an improved life or better health, it’s also about its reflective properties. Sleep is about reflection, we can internally ask ourselves, as we snooze: what was new or novel today? And what can I leave behind from the day? With these reflective exercises we can process what new things we can integrate with what we already know to produce a better view of the world and where we fit into it.

If you think you can survive on less than 7- 8 hours per night, challenge yourself to get a full restful sleep and see how you feel after 10 days. You’ll probably accomplish more than if you sacrifice your sleep to meet that self-imposed deadline. Before you know it, burnout and irritation will creep up.

With the prevalence of technology, your smartphone is hurting your sleep. Leaving a post on Facebook, Snapchat or your vice of choice about how you can’t sleep exacerbates this issue. The bright blue lights of your phone suppress our body’s production of melatonin, an important hormone that induces tiredness and contributes to timing of sleep. Dim your lights and create a relaxing environment ripe for refreshing sleep. 

Let’s encourage one another to change up our antiquated way of thinking when it comes to sleep and its importance. Damaging statements like “You can sleep when you’re dead” need to be erased from our talk. If you are a parent to an infant, we feel for you, but it won’t last forever. The healthier and more alert we can be, we’ll move the needle of life further and actually focus long enough to learn from the environment and others.

 

NADIA ALCIDE is the chief problem solver at Simply Sociable LLC, a virtual business management firm. Over the years, Nadia and Simply Sociable have helped small businesses and entrepreneurs scale by managing their back-end systems, thus allowing them to focus on growth-related activities. Her team takes pride in making admin simple.

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