In today’s busy world we’re all striving to get more done in less time. Productivity at work (and at home) is the ultimate goal … but at a significant cost when it comes to our recovery and sleep. With only 24 hours in a day (and 28 hours of tasks on the “to do list”), how can we get the most out of each waking hour, and still get real enjoyment out of our lives?
Sleep and productivity go hand in hand. To many, it would seem that sleeping less would give us more time to complete things on that list and make us more productive. At first glance, this logic seems to make good sense. We often hear stories about successful men and women who claim to get only four to five hours of sleep per night. In fact, I’m sure you may even know someone who talks about how lithe sleep they get (like a badge of honor) and how much they claim to accomplish. While we all need to “burn the midnight oil” every once in a while, we also need to realize there is a cost to long term sleep deprivation. This can take its toll on the body, the mind and (ultimately) your productivity.
Chronic lack of sleep has been shown to lead to:
- Memory problems
- Depression and irritability
- A weaker immune system
- An increased perception of pain
- Increased sugar cravings
- Heart problems
- An increased risk of accidents
- Gastro-intestinal problems and more
Recommendations for Sleep
So … how much sleep do we actually need? According to the National Sleep Foundation Scientific Advisory Council, the optimal amount of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours which is about 20% less than the average of 6.5 we are averaging today.
Getting enough zzzz’s gives our body an opportunity to flush harmful neurotoxins from our brain, consolidate memories, strengthen our immune system,fight off infection and repair ourselves hormonally. Sleep debt, much like credit card debt, will catch up to you and the cost can be equally damaging to your future. If you want to be at your absolute best – genuinely happy, healthy (from the inside and out), function with a clear mind and incredibly productive – then sleep must take priority over other things on your “to do list”.
Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Sleep
Below are the eight (8) most powerful things you can do to get the most out of your sleep … and make the most out of your life:
- Practice a sleep routine: You may be familiar with a morning routine, but perhaps not a sleep routine. Set an alarm on your phone for one hour before you want to be asleep. Turn off all electronics and start preparing for a great morning. Pack your gym bag, lay out your clothes, drink some tea, read a book, or maybe even prepare your breakfast for a more efficient morning. Preparation and a proper wind down is key.
- Get to bed at the same time each night (even on weekends): We are all creatures of habit. If you can get in the habit of going to bed at the same time each night your body will get used to it. Pretty soon you will be falling asleep in minutes instead of tossing and turning into the night. Late day naps, and staying up until 2am on the weekends can throw off your rhythm.
- Exercise daily (but avoid exercise in the evening): Exercise is a great way to de-stress the body however exercise does release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These are the hormones that get us up and going. These hormones should be high in the morning and taper off towards the evening so that the body can rest. I once heard someone say, “If you wouldn’t get up early to do it … you shouldn’t stay up late to do it”. This includes not only exercise, but watching TV and late night drinking.
- Turn off electronics before bed: I mentioned this before but it’s worth mentioning again. Aside from the stimulating effects that come from our electronics, any light that hits our eyes at night prevents us from releasing melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone required for sleep. If you must be on a computer late at night download justgetflux.com or wear blue blocker sunglasses. I do both. This blocks the blue light form hitting your eyes so that you can still produce melatonin. Regardless, no light is the best option.
- Blackout your windows: Since no light is the best … go all the way. Even having light hit your skin at night can limit the production of melatonin and growth hormone. Having access to light in our homes at night has only been possible for a little over 100 years. Your body is accustomed to going to bed when it’s completely dark. You can buy Blackout Curtains on amazon.com. This could be one of the best investments you will ever make.
- Keep your bedroom temperature between 65 and 72 degrees: I like to think of my bedroom as my sleep cave … cool and dark. Experts agree that sleeping in cooler temperatures is more comfortable. More comfortable sleep leads to high quality and longer sleep.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: A recent study at the Henry Ford Sleep Disorders Center revealed that con suing caffeine even 6 hours before bed disrupts sleep. So if you have it have it early. Less obvious is the effect of alcohol. Having a nightcap may in fact help you fall asleep faster but research shows that you will ore limey wake up through out the night and the quality of you sleep will be of a lesser degree.
- Keep a journal and get your thoughts out of your head: Often what keeps up up at night are all the thoughts and unresolved challenges of the day. Doing a proper mind dump and planning out your tomorrow will help you get to bed with more ease.
Implement these new habits into your day and watch your productivity soar. Here’s to sleeping your way to the top!
Eli Wilhide is a lifestyle coach and personal development expert. After being involved in over 2500 seminars with the Tony Robbins organization he is now sharing his knowledge and experience with people from all walks of life. Visit www.eliwilhide.com for more information or get in contact with him by clicking here.