You snooze, you lose

Robyn D. Clarke

Sleep attacks: they always seem to creep up at the wrong time. Whether in meetings or the semi-seclusion of your cubicle, dozing off interferes with your workload and negatively impacts your professionalism. If you typically nod off during the day, ask yourself one simple question: am I getting enough sleep at night?

If you’re like most Americans, the answer is no. Most experts recommend at least eight hours of sleep every night. But according to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, the typical adult averages less than seven. In fact, 47% of American workers say they have trouble sleeping and 66% of those say sleepiness interferes with their job performance.

“Americans need to wake up and realize the importance of sleep in their lives,” says Dr. William C. Dement, director of Stanford University Sleep Disorders Clinic and Laboratory in California. His Web site, the Sleep Well (www. stanford. edul~dement), offers these practical, effective tips to ensure you get the rest you need to do your job effectively:

  • Go to bed and get up the same time each day. This includes weekends. Your body will become adjusted to your schedule and you won’t even need an alarm dock.
  • Take a hot bath about 90 minutes before your bedtime. A hot bath raises your body temperature, but it’s the drop in temperature that makes you feel sleepy.
  • Make sure your bed and bedroom are comfortable. A hot room can keep you awake. A cool room with enough blankets to keep you warm is ideal.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for at least four to six hours before bedtime. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Alcohol may help you sleep at first, but the restful periods will be fragmented and you may awaken throughout the night.
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