Put Sleep at the Top of your To-Do List
What an amazing machine is the human body. Together, with its 12 different systems (circulatory, digestive, nervous, etc.), it performs hundreds of miraculous functions every day that most of us probably take for granted. But like any highly-functioning machine, the body needs rest and rejuvenation to perform its best.
That rest comes, of course, with sleep, which, like diet and exercise, is vital to a healthy productive life. Don’t get enough sleep and you risk a myriad of chronic health problems from obesity to cancer, workplace or automobile accidents. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates sleep deprivation is the cause of about 100,000 car accidents and 1,500 deaths annually in the U.S.
Get enough sleep and you shorten the learning curve, whether you’re taking up golf, piano or a new work task. If you want to be creative, to make good decisions and pay attention, then make sleep a top priority. Indeed, if you want to get the most out of your waking hours—to be your best physical, emotional and mental self—get the most out of your sleeping hours.
Put sleep at the top of your to-do list. You won’t be disappointed.
Who’s at risk for sleep deprivation?
According to the NIH, everyone, but notably:
- Those, such as caregivers, with limited time for sleep.
- Shift workers, first responders, and others whose schedules interfere with their internal body clocks. Also, teens with early school start times.
- Those who lack sleep due to substance abuse or take medications to stay awake, who don’t make time for sleep.
- Those who suffer from stress, anxiety or sleep disorders.
- Those who take prescribed medications that interfere with sleep.
You may be experiencing sleep deficiency if you feel like you could doze off during the following situations:
- Sitting and reading or watching TV
- Sitting still in a public place, such as a movie theater, meeting, or classroom
- Riding in a car for an hour without stopping
- Sitting and talking to someone
- Sitting quietly after lunch
- Sitting in traffic for a few minutes
A common myth is that we can learn to get by on little sleep. In fact, there is often a certain machismo associated with soldiering on with little or no sleep, but today we know that how much we sleep (or don’t) affects our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing during our waking hours.
How much sleep do we need? The amount varies with age, but adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Teens and children require more to be at their best.
Perhaps many of us think it’s what we do during our waking hours that’s important, that sleeping is just something we eventually must do once we get time to get around to it. The fact is, you can improve every aspect of your waking life, and it’s so easy you can do it in your sleep.