24 Mar 2023
“You’re able to get more done on a good night’s sleep, not less.” Mathew Carter
Do you know that sufficient sleep can help you increase productivity and contribute to your general well-being?
Our bodies are complex machines! Complex machines consist of many parts, and each part performs a different job yet they all work together to perform certain functions. The human body has a structure (anatomy) and functioning systems (physiology) that work together to perform different functions. When a machine works it needs some time to rest to reduce the depreciation rate and maintain its efficiency, otherwise, it will be worn out very fast. Our bodies too, need to rest or else we will be strained and impaired. Power naps during the mid-day are an opportunity to take short breaks and recharge. Taking a nap in the afternoon can boost your memory, make you more alert and reduce stress.
Our bodies function in the rhythm of an internal biological clock (circadian clock), which is a 24-hour system that regulates the physical, mental, and behavioral changes in the sleep-wake cycle. Some functions of the body such as brain functioning, metabolism of fats, production of hormones and the immune system work differently at different times of the day. For example, in the morning the body releases hormones that promote alertness such as cortisol which helps you wake up. In children and adolescents, reproductive hormones (testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone) are released in pulses during the night. The body has some cells that are made to work harder when we are awake and some when we are asleep. To maintain this balance, we must have enough and regular sleep patterns. Furthermore, when we fall asleep our blood pressure and heart rate fall and we breathe less often and less deeply, which is an opportunity for the heart and lungs to revitalize. Psychologist Sahaya Selvam says, ”Our daily sleep is like returning to the womb of the mother and getting rejuvenated.” Sleep deprivation creates a risk for health problems such as obesity, type II diabetes, poor mental health, and injuries caused by accidents.
Our productivity level is affected by the amount of sleep too. Sleep helps in learning and the formation of long-term memory. Not having enough quality sleep can lead to poor attention and the inability to think clearly. Dr Mathew Carter a sleep scientist puts forward that, there is a sleep crisis in our culture, “Most people equate losing sleep with having more time to enjoy the day or getting things done. Ironically, when they are sleep deprived, they enjoy the day less and are so unfocused that they are much slower getting things done” (The Science of Sleep and the Art of Productivity). A study in four US corporations found that lack of sufficient quality sleep has a significant contribution to worse productivity, performance, and safety outcomes. Fatigue-related productivity losses were estimated to cost 1967 USD per employee annually (Rosekind et al, 2010).
An ideal sleep-in term of duration varies according to age. For adults, it’s 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep and not more than 9 hours. Many people do complain that, if they sleep enough they won’t get enough time to get things done. But, believe me, if you get enough sleep, you will reduce half the span you use to get things done. Dr Mathew Carter emphasizes, “You’re able to get more done on a good night’s sleep, not less.” Remember, you don’t have to trade your well-being for anything material. Today, technological advancement has provided solutions to simplify work but has also deprived us of our sleep time. Think of the possibility of working at night provided by electricity. How many hours of sleep have been robbed by the internet, smartphones, computers, and television?
Good enough, we have not been deprived of the freedom to plan our time and use technology for our benefit.
Here are guidelines to improve the quality of your sleep, postulated by psychologist Sahaya Selvam (PhD) in his book 40-Day Challenge: Breaking the Chains of Habit.
- Plan your daily timetable in such a way that you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Use your bed only to sleep – so that the bed becomes a cue for your body to go to sleep.
- Avoid exposure to a screen (laptop, television, or mobile phone) at least one hour before your sleep time. You can substitute having a phone in bed with reading a good book before you sleep and keep your phone away from your bed preferably at the table in your bedroom.
- Reduce your caffeine intake (coffee, tea, or energy drinks) towards evenings.
- Take your last meal of the day (which should be lighter than other meals) at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- Keep your room in complete darkness while you sleep.
- Avoid prolonged sleep after your waking-up time.
- Avoid prolonged sleep during the day, especially in the afternoon hours. A nap of not more than 45 minutes should be enough.
- If you were in bed and had a poor sleep one night, the next day go for a long walk and expose yourself to the sun in order to reset your biological clock – which works in rhythm with the sun.
- Listen to your body as you regulate your body rhythm in your eating, sleeping, and exercise.
Wishing you flourishing in every moment!
Youth Facilitator for Generation Empower. Holistic Wellness Enthusiast. Intrigued by how individuals and organizations flourish in well-being. I talk about youth development, education, character formation, mental health, and spirituality.
By Barnabas Nkinga on 06 Feb 2023
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