2 min read
Are you regularly up at 4 a.m. to jump start the day—and still taking care of business, whether personal or professional, long after sunset each night? If so, it may be time for a wake-up call. Being a Type A go-getter is perceived as a badge of honor today. And for some of us, it feels like we have no choice in the matter. How else are we going to eat a healthy breakfast, exercise, get the kids to school, build a career, manage a household, and maybe squeeze in a favorite TV show once in a blue moon? Sleep is often shoved to the back burner, something we dream of enjoying when we retire. We’re not alone According to public health experts, one in three Americans gets fewer than seven hours of sleep each night. Big deal, right? You’ve got that great single-cup coffee brewer in the office to keep you going all day. It IS a big deal: Regularly skimping on sleep takes a heavy toll on our health and well-being:
- Attention and focus can suffer, so we’re more susceptible to accidents.
- Risk of cardiovascular disease increases by up to 50 percent.
- We’re four times likelier to catch a cold.
- Eating healthy is tough because we’re flooded with body chemicals that increase hunger.
Prioritizing better sleep If you’re consistently overbooked, you may have to make some hard decisions about your lifestyle—like saying no to some things (or people) or asking for more help. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, you could start practicing what experts call good sleep hygiene:
- Cut off electronics at least an hour before bedtime—and ban them from the bedroom.
- Take a leisurely walk or a warm bath to relax your body and mind.
- Maintain a cooler temperature in the bedroom and block out all sources of light.
- Avoid alcohol at least four hours before bedtime—it can make you drowsy at first, but later cause fragmented sleep patterns.
- Give up the snooze button. If you fall back asleep, you’ll end up feeling groggier all day.
Breaking a bad sleep habit is just like breaking any other habit: we may need to make some sacrifices, and it can take some time to adjust—for us and for those around us. But the results are almost always worth it.