To achieve the impossible dream, try going to sleep. -Joan Klempner
Americans are in a perpetual state of fatigue. The "work hard, play hard" mentality results in guilt for any time spent sleeping, even though the right amount of sleep results in greater creativity and productivity. The average American gets less than the recommended seven-nine hours of sleep per night, even though studies have shown that getting less than six hours of sleep results in a 12% higher probability of premature death and can cause obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. (National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org)
People who are sleep-deprived are also unpleasant to be around—irritable, inattentive, depressed and unproductive. Sustained periods without sleep result in hallucinations. I have personally experienced this during intense operations when I was in the Navy. Falling asleep at the wheel can kill as readily as drunk driving. You owe it to yourself and others to get enough sleep.
So, how do you ensure adequate sleep?
- Make an inviolable appointment with yourself to be in bed for eight hours per night, and then build the rest of your schedule around your sleep time. Don't let your spouse, children, dog, friends or work take away your sleep priority. Remember that they will all benefit if you get enough sleep. Thirty minutes prior to bedtime, turn off all screens (TV, computer, phone) and get ready for bed. You'll drift off to sleep and wake up ready to attack the day.
- Keep your sleep hours consistent on the weekends by waking up within an hour of your normal weekday time. Instead of getting up at the normal weekday time of 6 or 7 am, many people use Saturdays and Sundays as an excuse to sleep until 9 or 10 am. Waking up early on Monday confuses the body's clock (circadian rhythm) and results in a lousy day. Poor Monday performance is frequently caused by sleep "bingeing" on the weekend.
- Naps can be highly productive. A twenty-minute "power nap" in the afternoon can propel you to greater productivity in the afternoon and evening. You can add to this with a "caffeine nap," in which you drink a cup of coffee before you you're your nap. The coffee will take about 20 minutes to kick in, so you wake up refreshed and alert.
- Try poly-phasic sleep. Although not recommended long term, if you are in a short-term crunch period at school or work, try poly-phasic sleep. With poly-phasic sleep, you get six hours of sleep at night (say, midnight to six a.m.) and take a 20-minute nap at around 2 pm. The net result is an extra one-two hours of work time daily, albeit with some productivity reduction during the other hours.
Adequate sleep is a life necessity and critical to a Surpassing Life!
Build your daily schedule around getting 8 hours of sleep per night.
Turn off all screens 30 minutes before bed.
Sleep consistent hours—don't binge on weekends.
Use power or "caffeine" naps to improve afternoon productivity.
Try poly-phasic sleep during crunch times.
Greater creativity and productivity, a more pleasant personality, the energy to enjoy life!
Excerpted from Chapter 8, Sleep Deprived, of The Surpassing Life: 52 Practical Ways to Achieve Personal Excellence, thesurpassinglife.com.