There is a lot of news about sleep these days. The number of studies and attention has me asking: Am I rested? Do I sleep enough? When I do sleep, is it “good” sleep? What is the impact to my wellbeing? If the answer to any of these is “not so much” or “sometimes” maybe it’s time to try something different.

Often, after a long workweek I can’t wait to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday. The thought of not having to wake to an alarm is very gratifying. The funny thing is, it doesn’t mean I sleep any longer than usual.

Twenty percent of adults fail to get enough sleep. How much is enough? It depends, we each have a different need, but the average for an adult is 7 to 8 hours per night.

According to Prevention, there are a few ways to tell if you’ve fallen short on shut-eye. You should naturally wake up after the same amount of sleep every day, even on the weekends, without an alarm clock. If you don’t, you’re likely sleep deprived.

If catching up on sleep during the weekend is your thing, beware, that’s a red flag. Other signs include falling asleep within five minutes of hitting the pillow and nodding off during monotonous moments, such as a meeting or on the train.

The impact of sleep deprivation is multi-faceted, including:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Low tolerance with others
  • Productivity decrease
  • Poor judgment

The longer you go without the sleep you need, things can get worse. Your focus goes down, anxiety can set in, your nervous system wears down and driving may be impacted. Sleep is necessary to cleanse the brain and every night it “wipes your slate clean.”

There are health implications as well, with an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, obesity and diabetes.

There is no substitute for sleep, so make a commitment to yourself and get your sleep on!

Here are a few tips that might help:

  • Your bedroom – is it cool, dark and quiet? Is your bed comfortable and supportive?
  • Get active during the day. A tired body helps to prepare for sleep. Try to finish high impact activity four hours before sleep time though.
  • Who doesn’t like a good cup of coffee or tea? If choosing caffeine – stick to the morning. Grab a decaf or herbal tea after lunch.
  • Put away your phone at least 30-minutes before bed. Your brain needs to relax and adjust. (Your phone is a stimulant)
  • Meditate before bed to quiet the mind. You will be surprised what just ten minutes will do!

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