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Showers over Windermere from Holbeck Lane near Troutbeck.

The Importance of Sleep

February 2, 2021

I’ve talked about sleep a few times in the past and posted comments around it on March 30 2011, June 19 2018, May 7 2015, March 4 2014 and December 3 2015 (according to the ‘Search’ function on KR Connect!).

It’s top of mind today as 2020 has shown in many of my leadership sessions, that over 60% of us are suffering from sleep deficit in these troubling times.

To face the many challenges confronting us today, we need to look after ourselves mentally and physically – and nothing is more important than getting a good night’s sleep.

Here’s a 12 step road-map from the Edison Healthcare Clinic that Unfiltered’s Jake Millar shared with me.  It works!  (Pay particular attention to Point 10 – leave those screens in another room!!)

Pleasant Dreams!

Stick to a sleep schedule

We should aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. People generally have a hard time adjusting to changes in sleep patterns. Unfortunately, sleeping late on weekends doesn’t make up for poor sleep during the week. If necessary, set the alarm for bedtime.

Don’t exercise too late in the day

Exercise is excellent and we should try to exercise at least 30 minutes on most days. But try to time it no later than 2-3 hours before bed.

Avoid caffeine & nicotine

Coffee, black and green teas and chocolate all contain caffeine, which is a stimulant. Even consuming these in the afternoon can affect your sleep. Nicotine is also a stimulant and smokers will often wake up earlier than they would otherwise, due to nicotine withdrawal.

Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed

The presence of alcohol in the body can reduce your REM sleep, keeping you in the lighter stages of sleep. This affects processing of memory and emotions.

Avoid large meals and beverages late at night

A light snack before bed is okay, but a heavy meal can cause digestive issues, which interferes with sleep. Drinking too many fluids can cause frequent awakening to urinate.

Where possible, avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep

Some commonly prescribed heart, blood pressure or asthma medications, as well as some over the counter and herbal medicines for coughs, colds or allergies, can disrupt sleep patterns. If you have trouble sleeping, it may be worth speaking to your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of the drugs you’re taking may be contributing to this.

Don’t nap after 3pm

Naps are great, but taking them too late in the day can make it hard to fall asleep at night, as they reduce the natural ‘sleep pressure’ that builds each day.

Make sure to leave time to relax before bed.

It’s important to have time before bed to unwind. Try to schedule your days so that there is time to relax before bed.

Take a hot bath before bed.

The drop in body temperature after a bath may help you to feel sleepy and the bath can help you to slow down and relax before bed.

Have a dark, cool (in temperature), gadget-free bedroom.

We sleep better at night if the temperature in the room is kept on the cool side. Gadgets such as mobile phones and computers can be a distraction. A comfortable mattress and pillow can set you up for a good sleep. Those with insomnia will often watch the clock. Turn it away from view, so you don’t have to worry about the time while trying to sleep.

Get the right sunlight exposure

Sun exposure during the day helps us to regulate sleeping patterns.

Try to get outside in the natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes per day.

Don’t stay in bed if you (really) can’t sleep

If you find yourself still in bed for more than 20 minutes, or you’re starting to get anxious in bed, get up and do something else until you feel sleepy. Keep the lights dim. Anxiety while trying to sleep can make it harder to fall asleep.

KR

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