Do You Get Enough Sleep?
If you do you are in the minority. Canadian Legion Magazine reported in a 2010 survey that 60 % of Canadian adults and youth feel tired most of the time. The World Association of Sleep Medicine said that Canadian adults average 6.9 hours of sleep a night and 30% sleep less than 6.
Sleep and Stress: The chicken and the egg situation
If you’re feeling stressed out, getting enough sleep should be one of your top priorities. A lack of sleep clearly influences your stress response. No matter what the stress trigger, you will perceive a higher level of stress than you would if you were well rested.
Conversely, if you are experiencing elevated stress levels, you are less likely to get a good night’s sleep. You can see the cyclic nature of stress and sleep. Like the chicken and the egg we are not sure what came first but we can see how it can quickly get into an upward spiral. How often have you laid in bed late a night unable to sleep as your thoughts turn to your stressors? Stress causes insomnia by making it difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep, and by affecting the quality of your sleep. If you don’t get enough deep sleep, you’re missing a chance to take a break from stress. The circle continues.
Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders are estimated to cost Americans over $100 billion annually in lost productivity, medical expenses, sick leave, and property and environmental damage (National Sleep Foundation). This does not count the huge personal cost in stress, obesity (yes there is a direct link between sleep and obesity – I wish I had know that a 100 pounds ago) and disease.
How to Get More Sleep
I am reading the excellent book, Sleep Smarter, by Shawn Stevenson. I have taken a test a few of his suggestions and the following are working well for me:
• Pulling the shades at night to increase the darkness of the room; the eye detects light even when closed.
• Drink Chamomile tea about 90 minutes before bedtime.
• Go to bed and get up at regular times.
• Sleeping in 90-minute increments. That is a normal sleep cycle. So if you go to bed at 10 the first cycle would end at 11:30, the next at 1:00, the next at 2:30, the next at 4:00 and the next at 5:30. Therefore, in order to sleep complete cycles, you would get up at 5:30 or 7:00 not at 5:00 or 6:00. I have found this to make quite a difference.
Stevenson also noted that approximately 12 million Americans have restless legs syndrome, a sleep and movement disorder characterized by unpleasant (tingling, crawling, creeping and/or pulling) feelings in the legs, which cause an urge to move in order to relieve the symptoms. I unfortunately am a sufferer of restless legs syndrome and have lost many nights sleep to this. Stevenson suggested applying liquid Magnesium to the back of the legs to alleviate this. Since I have started doing this I have started sleeping both better and longer.
If you don’t sleep well you feel more stressed. If you feel more stressed, you don’t sleep well. This is a vicious circle that will continue in a downward spiral. I made (and still do sometimes, unfortunately) the mistake of feeling that I need to sleep less when I have more to do or deadlines such as my upcoming book. At the cognitive level I am well aware that the studies confirm that productivity goes down and mistakes go up with less sleep.
Do you have too much to do? If yes, take a break and get some sleep!
For more tips and hints sign up to my occasional newsletter at