Sleep? Who has time for it? Any busy professional knows the stressful demands of work and family not only keep us awake at night, they’ve got us thinking that it’s a luxury for retirees and lazy teenagers. But the truth is the body needs sleep to successfully carry out all the tasks we are charged with, otherwise, it will eventually crash. “It’s important to realize that sleep isn’t just a luxury,” says WebMD medical editor Dr. Louise Chang. “It’s important for good mental and physical health.” And in an age when you can program a gadget to fulfill almost any function, sleep is still the one thing only you can do. We asksed Dr. Chang to tell us the importance of making sure you slow down and relax.
Why is it that many people believe that it’s okay to skimp on sleep?
People can have a difficult time fitting in everything that needs to get done during the day especially around the holidays. Time is dedicated to work, family or other obligations and unfortunately sleep time is sacrificed to accommodate an increasingly busy schedule. People feel that sleep can be made-up “later,” but often sleep debt accumulates over time. Although you may feel more productive in the short term, in the long run sleep debt will catch up with you.
How specifically is your health compromised when you deprive your body of sleep?
Sleep is important in disease prevention and overall health. Poor sleep has been scientifically linked to many health problems including obesity, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease. It can also affect the immune system, attention, concentration, and mood.
How could sleep actually help a professional’s work performance?
Sleep needs are different for each person, but on average adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per day. If you are sleep deprived, by getting adequate levels of sleep you can expect to see improvement in energy level, focus, and concentration. This adds to improved work performance because you can be more productive and better at multi-tasking.
What are the specific benefits of sleep that any busy executive should know?
Sleep allows the body time to rest from a hectic waking day. If there is a problem you are dealing with, sleep can be an opportunity to allow your mind to sort through the issue. Getting enough sleep empowers you to achieve a higher level of performance.
It is essential to good physical and mental health.
Dr. Chang’s simple tips to help you sleep:
- Try to keep a regular bedtime and wake time
- Maintain the bedroom at a comfortable temperature for sleeping
- Don’t work, use the computer, or watch TV while in bed. Remove tech items from the bedroom to help resist the urge.
- Avoid vigorous exercise right before going to bed (however, regular exercise can help promote sleep
- Avoid large meals right before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoking close to bedtime. Alcohol may make you fall asleep faster, but it disrupts your quality of sleep.
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