You are an extremely busy person. You are successful, hard-working, your schedule is filled with demanding clients. Or you are building this new business of your dreams, and don’t count your hours. I’ve been there and done that. One question: do you sleep well enough? Let’s have a little chat about the effects of lack of sleep on your body, brain and work and how to make the best of your night.
The importance of three primary needs
Last year, I was sharing simple recipes for better health. Because it’s no secret, if you are not healthy, everything else is not going smoothly. How can you perform well intellectually if your body is continuously crying for help? I’m very well aware that good health is not gifted to anyone, unfortunately. But it’s in your power to make the best with what you have. You must treat your body with great care, so it will serve you well for a long time.
Sleep, along with breathing, and drinking water are the most important things you can do for your body.
Are you sure you breathe deeply sometime in the day? Probably not! Most people, including me, merely breathe mindlessly to stay alive. In that case, we do not make the best of the fantastic machines that are our lungs. We often forget to drink enough fresh and pure water to clean our body. And most of us don’t sleep well enough regularly. Of course, life gets in the way. We have social commitments, jobs, and kids. In the end, we completely forget what it looks like for us to have a good night sleep. We even forget what it’s like to have an uninterrupted night!
How sleep influences your health
For the record, a good night sleep for an adult is 7 to 8 hours long. Sleeping less than 7 hours or more than 8 hours is not healthy for most people. If you happen to have a little less one night, the next one should be a little longer. However, don’t expect to sleep 14 hours one night and not at all the next one and be alert and rested. Our brain needs a daily rest to perform well.
Now coming to the effects of a poor sleeping habit on your health: the first one is heart diseases, people who don’t sleep enough have higher risks of heart strokes. Poor sleep makes your heart beat faster than normal, which is terrible for the whole body in the long run.
Before this ultimate issue, there are several signals that your body sends to warn you. In themselves, they already are a discomfort. If you lack sleep, you gain weight; this does not depend on the calorie intake. If you don’t sleep enough, you increase your chances to have diabetes type 2. Your immune functions are deprived, so you are at higher risks for common diseases like cold and flu.
If you want some more motivation, if you have some family members of a certain age suffering from arthritis, you may want to consider that chronic lack of sleep increase inflammations, if you suffer from pains in your fingers, maybe you should consider having longer nights. People who lack sleep underperform in physical activities. You need to exercise to be healthy. If you are too tired to exercise because you didn’t sleep enough, once again, you double the punishment for your body.
But let’s go back to our main subject: sleep better to work better.
The effect of poor or insufficient sleep on your brain
Lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep affects our body, but it also affects our brain. During this resting period, our brain is extremely active. But as our body rests, the mind is free to perform the tasks it do during our active time. Researchers are not entirely sure of what happens in our brain during the night, but we can monitor its activity, and we know it’s highly active.
Researchers suppose that the brain is performing some repairing and consolidating, which are crucial tasks, at night time. They have been able to test the effects of lack of sleep on people’s behaviour.
Socializing and interacting
Amongst others, we tend to have difficulty to socialize and connect with others. Our faculties of concentration and productivity are profoundly affected by the length and quality of our previous night. We are also less capable of decision making and fast reaction in case of a danger (people lacking sleep have the same responses when driving than people who have alcohol in their blood).
Eventually, a chronic lack of sleep leads to depression, which in itself is causing many effects on our health, and life.
Your working day
The link to the quality of our work is quite clear. Of course, if you are depressed, or can’t communicate adequately, your work and business will be affected by your lack of sleep. But this is an extreme situation. I want to focus on the first common effects we can all encounter when we sleep poorly on a regular basis. A lack of sleep a little each day is already harmful.
We focus less on our work, we are less productive, and we have difficulties getting into our work. These are critical issues for anyone, but especially for business owners, and homepreneurs. We need all the energy and strength we can use to be as productive and motivated as possible.
Maybe you want to sleep less to work more. You may say that your goals and the money you make are motivation enough. Or are they? Don’t be fooled by extra hours; they often lead to false productivity. In the end, you could have performed better in a lot less time.
How to improve the quality of your sleep
Now, this is the juicy part. How can we improve the quality and length of our sleep? If we are parents of young children, we can’t avoid the night interruptions. But we can manage to have a better quality sleep all the same. After all, our kids sleep between 10 and 14 hours a day, so surely there is a way we can get organized to recover from an interrupted night. Of course, we have tasks and duties, but we have to take into account that our sleep is our best health asset or our worse health curse.
Considering that, I’m pretty sure you can manage to get organized and find a way to improve your sleeping time. If not, you can take my free e-course and figure out a way to change your schedule and fit in a new habit.
1- Go to bed at a regular hour
This one is perfect for young parents. They have kids that prevent them from having crazy parties every night.
2- Deep breathing when going to bed
A poor breathing habit is known for waking us up around 3 to 4 am. If you happen to wake up regularly around this time, you have your proof. You’ll quickly improve your sleep is you spend a few minutes practising deep breathing before going to sleep. I tried, it worked!
I will never say it enough, meditation is beneficial in many aspects, with only a 5-minute daily practice. Don’t underestimate the way meditation can help you sleep well.
But not before bedtime! Regular physical activity is improving our sleep quality if you exercise a long time before your bedtime. Exercise increases our metabolism, to fall asleep, you need a slower metabolism. It’s better to practice in the morning or during your lunch break. At the very least before dinner time.
5- Lower your bedroom’s temperature
Being to warm at night is not good for the quality of sleep. Decrease your room temperature by at least 2 degrees to enjoy a good night sleep.
6- Do not drink right before going to bed
Obviously, because chances are you are going to wake up a few hours later to go to the washroom.
7- Beware of your screen time
I read on an iPad, or watch a short movie before going to bed. It’s the way I like it, I don’t want to fill my tiny home with books anymore. So, I have to manage my reading habit. If the screen light is diminishing your faculty of falling asleep, you can handle that issue by using the night screen function. On Apple products, it’s available in the settings. It’s giving a reddish tone to your screen. Or download an app that will serve the same purpose.
8- Sleeping pills
Coming from Europe, I’m shocked by the ease people have in Northern America with sleeping pills. It’s not in any way, harmless for your body or brain. And even worse, it’s a drug, so the more you take, the more you’ll need.
There are many natural ways to increase the quality of your sleep, and medication is not one of them. Please try all of the above, if it’s not enough, do some research on the Internet. My last tip will be the use of “melatonin”. I do not advise it on a regular basis, because it’s better to work by yourself on training your body to rest as much as needed. But it works wonders for significant jet lags for example. Or for managing exam stress the night before. It is not addictive, so you can use it without the fear of creating a new bad habit. However, it is an active substance, it must be treated as such.
The final word
This list is exhaustive of course. What are your favourite tips to fall asleep and sleep better?
I link this post and video from the National Sleep Foundation: IMPROVE YOUR MEMORY WITH A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP to help you understand better the benefits of a good night sleep for your brain, therefore you work. Enjoy!
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