By Frank Apodaca
Crunching numbers and making long term financial decisions requires mental focus and stimulation to be successful. In a success driven world where time equals money, we often catch ourselves sacrificing much needed sleep in order to get ahead, but did you know that it only takes a few days of sleep deprivation for negative effects to our performance. Long term effects of poor sleep are even more concerning since they can result in health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Brain function can also be severely debilitated, to the extent that memory processes may be interrupted making you forget the relationship between things and slows down your decision making skills. This severely interrupts problem solving, and when dealing with money, can have disastrous results, especially in business.
The good news is there is much you can do to reclaim a poor night’s sleep to reap the benefits in both your health, and success in the workforce.
What is Sleep Deprivation?
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Sleep deprivation is a leading cause of reduced mental and physical function, and studies suggest that only two-thirds of adults get the suggested seven to nine hours of sleep they need each night to allow proper sleep cycles to occur. This leads to what is called sleep debt, and results in a regression of the activity in your brain’s frontal lobe: where decision making and impulse control takes place. Overtime this can have some pretty severe short, and long term consequences if not addresses.
When we sleep our brain cycles through multiple sleep stages at different times. When our sleep is interrupted, or we do not allow enough time for these stages to occur, then we also interrupt our brain function that helps store memory, make connections, and problem solve. We also inhibit our immune system, and disrupt muscle and bone regeneration.
What Steps Can I Take For a Better Night’s Rest?
The good news is there are many steps you can take to address your lack of sleep to get you back to being the successful, efficient entrepreneur you are. Even if you think you are getting the right amount of sleep, if you are waking feeling tired, or in pain, then you most likely spent part of your night tossing and turning for one reason or another. Addressing your discomfort may be the first step to proper rest.
- Replace Your Mattress
When you struggle to drift off to sleep, or are feeling as if it takes forever to get comfortable each night, you may want to address the level of comfort your mattress is providing. Old mattresses that have extended their warranty often can no longer provide the support needed for your body to be in correct alignment, putting strain on your muscles and tricking your mind into working towards proper response for adjustment. Many people are also unaware of how mattress comfort level influences support for various sleep positions.
Side sleepers need a softer mattress surface to help keep the spine in alignment and not cause pressure point discomfort through the hips and shoulders. Back and stomach sleepers need a firmer surface to help hold up heavier areas of the body in order for the spine to curve naturally. Anything acting against the weight of your body will result in discomfort, or even pain.
Shopping for a new mattress is easier than ever and to get started it’s suggested to review the many mattress ratings found online concerning your top choices before making a decision.
- Pay Attention to Your Diet
If you’ve put in a long day, by mid-afternoon you are most likely craving a burst of energy. We often turn to fast carbs, sugars, and caffeine for this, but did you know these are the very things that are keeping you awake at night too?
Caffeine and sugar can take up to 6 hours to leave your system, which means it may be stimulating your brain and body well into your sleeping hours if you indulge anytime from mid-afternoon on. Try to avoid these after three o’clock in order to be sure it is no longer affecting your rest.
Fast carbs, starches, and certain fats break down in your body at slower rates, and keeps your body hard at work while it tries to break down all the components. Even though you may feel tired and fall asleep, your body is still trying to process these foods, which elevates your body temperature. This interrupts your sleep.
- Cool Off
When we drift off to sleep our body temperature naturally begins to drop. Creating a cooler sleeping environment is conducive to helping you drift off to sleep, as well as supportive of a better night’s rest. Set your room’s temperature between the optimal 60 and 67 degrees fahrenheit, don’t use too many covers, and look into other cooling alternatives to support your rest.
Fans are very efficient in getting air to move around, and can also be used to draw hot air out of the room by placing a box fan facing outwards in an open window. Using breathable materials, such as cotton, wool, and bamboo fibers in both bedding and clothing will also help your body breathe and avoid retention. You may also want to consider if your mattress is keeping you too warm and either replace it, or provide a cooling mattress topper during the warmer months.
- Remove Stimulants
Other than temperature, light and sound are key factors in how well we rest. These are easy to control if you keep in mind that leaving a television or music on all night you are disrupting your brain function as it is stimulated to pay attention to outside disruptions.
Television, tablets, computers, and phones all emit blue light as well which simulates daylight. When you spend too much time in front of these prior to sleep they trick your brain into thinking it is day, and your melatonin levels stays low and is not triggered to produce sleep hormones. Put away your electronics and dim lighting at least 60 to 90 minutes prior to bedtime.
Take Control of Your Sleep
If you still aren’t entirely convinced that a proper night’s rest is exactly what is needed for success, especially if you have a tendency to burn the wick at both ends, do yourself a favor and take note of your efficiency after applying a few of the above suggestions to a goodnight’s sleep. Taking advantage of late nights may initially get you ahead, but it won’t take long before the negative effects of your poor rest begins to influence your motivation and function, and play havoc on all your hard work.
Try getting to sleep earlier, and rising earlier to take advantage of the quiet of the morning where you are less likely to be interrupted and can enjoy your coffee while you begin a day’s worth of productivity. Make healthy eating choices that support long term energy, such as fresh vegetable and food high in proteins and healthy fats to get you over the afternoon drag. Also, consider quick power naps when you are feeling sluggish since all it takes is 20 minutes to recharge and refocus on your days work.