If you don’t believe me, try to stay awake for more than 3 days in a row. The hallucinations will set in rather quickly and you’ll start to feel the effects of sleep deprivation long before that. If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter, you know this. By the following afternoon, you aren’t nearly as sharp as you are after a good night sleep. In fact, you may well be toast.
The average person needs a good 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep per night. Yet most of us don’t even come close to that. We stay up late watching TV, browsing the web, or catching up on email. Then we get up early to get a jump on the day and have a fighting chance at tackling our to-do list while finding time to work out and spend quality time with our loved ones. Something’s got to give with that kind of schedule and more often than not its our body and mind.
Without adequate sleep, we don’t get the chance to de-stress and process everything that’s happened the previous day. Sure, we can pull it off for a time, but eventually our health and our productivity suffers.
While there are seasons in life when we have to make due with little sleep like the weeks and months after having a baby, it shouldn’t be a long-term strategy. If we make it that, we risk having some negative long-term health consequences including heart attack and stroke along with it.
That’s right, stress kills and lack of sleep is its accomplice. It’s time to take a stand and make sleep a priority. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much more you’ll get done during your waking hours and how unstressed you’ll feel as a result.
Aim to get a good eight hours of sleep per night. I find it easiest to work backwards. Determine what time you really need to get up in the morning to make it to work on time. If exercise in the morning is important to you, and something you benefit from, account for that as well.
The same goes for spiritual and meditative habits. Once you have your ideal wakeup time, work backwards eight to nine hours to find your new bed-time. Get in the habit of going to bed at that hour and make it part of your routine.
Once you see how much you benefit from a full-night’s sleep (a REAL good nigh’t sleep!), you’ll be hooked and both your body and mind will thank you for it.
And, maybe it’ll save your job, your marriage — maybe your life.