Sleep is so important! Although the amount of sleep required varies person to person, lack of sleep is linked to increased stress, burnout and can also cause cardiovascular disease over time. There are only a few (1-3% of the population) that are part of the ‘sleepless elite’: those that only require 5-6 hours and are able to function with continued high performance.
But for the remaining 98% of us, sleep is a luxury. If we want to make changes in the amount of sleep we get each day/night, it takes more than a reorganization of priorities. Take SAS Retail Services Team Member Anita B. After noticing negative effects on her daily health, she sought out avenues which led to better sleeping habits:
I used to think I could get away with very little sleep. However, if I truly listen to my body, my sleep number is 9 hours. I typically target to get a minimum of 7.5 hours. Not only are the hours important, but the depth of sleep is too. Deep restorative sleep repairs our body at the cellular level and helps us cognitively.
I know now my ability to have a great sleep is dependent upon the habits I engage in. While I am by no means perfect, this is the routine I work on:
I regularly practice the first three letters in M.E.D.S.
- I meditate daily. I started out in the morning but have now added it to my evening routine.
- I exercise regularly and often take evening strolls, which are also beneficial in getting my body ready for sleep by calming the parasympathetic nervous system.
- By nourishing my body with high-density nutrition and very little empty calories, I know I am giving the best ability to perform and then to also repair and recover.
- As a recovering workaholic, I unplug from work at the time I decide I am done for the day. The evenings are a time for relaxing and focusing on other things that bring me joy.
- I am aware of the media I consume and purposefully focus on the positive and uplifting. I typically unplug from social media 2 hours prior to lights out.
- I wear blue-light filter glasses throughout the day and try to use artificial lights minimally at night.
- When I am not walking, I stretch or do yoga prior to lights out to signal my body that it’s time for rest. I often read and then meditate.
I work at turning the lights out at a consistent time each night. While there are times, this routine goes completely off the rails, these are the things that I strive for so that I can be at my best the rest of the time.
Anita’s routine is personal and took a committed amount of time to achieve. Your own sleep schedule, while still a commitment, needs to revolve around what works for you. Even if you can get an extra 30 minutes!
30 minutes goes a long way: increased stamina, higher metabolism, regenerative cell boosts, lower stress, a happier disposition, not to mention a better handle on daily challenges. All it takes is for YOU to make the choice. Your technological devices and daily routines surrounding them will be there tomorrow. Take a couple days to jot down when you go to bed. From there, give yourself a bedtime and start winding down an hour prior. Shut off your electronics, go through your ‘get ready for bed’ routine and add in something calming. Focus on you and let your mind rest.