While working my first job as a teenager, I had a boss who proudly boasted that he lived on 2 hours sleep every night. As a young person who had no trouble sleeping all morning if I had the chance, I thought this was bizarre behaviour, and yet I was impressed that he ran a thriving restaurant on so little sleep.
But it wasn’t long before I started seeing changes in my boss; to the point where he would miss shifts and eventually was gone altogether. I learned later that he had a nervous breakdown and spent extended time in the hospital before having to sell the business.
No one can survive, let alone thrive on 2 hours of sleep a night. Unfortunately, I know this from my own personal experience too.
Growing up and well into my adult years, I never struggled with sleep. I almost always slept through the night…no problem. But then in 2003, everything changed, dramatically. “All of a sudden” I could not sleep. Everyday for 3 months I went through the same nightly battle and would lay awake until 5am, then doze off only to be rudely awakened by my alarm at 7am.
It was brutal. In many ways, the worst time of my life. I was serving in the local church and in a private counselling practice at the time and I struggled to function at the most basic level and I’m sure it must have shown. I felt like a zombie going through the motions. I tried everything short of prescription drugs to sleep. Various natural remedies (that didn’t remedy anything) over the counter sleep aids, a sleep clinic; I even went to an iridologist. A friend suggested it. I didn’t even know what an iridologist was! Who knew that you could learn so much about the body by looking at our iris? But it didn’t help…nothing changed and I was becoming even more desperate.
I can assure you, it is impossible to thrive on two hours a night. But you already knew that.
But most of us can’t thrive on 6 hours either. I read recently that the national average is just under 7 hours, but I think it’s much less than that. Going to bed at 11pm and getting up at 6am doesn’t equal 7 hours sleep as it takes most people at least 15-20 minutes to get to finally doze off.
Here’s my point. You may have set goals for this year and you want to accomplish a lot. Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, if you want to achieve all you set out to do, then you need to sleep more.
Sleeping more = accomplishing more
There are a multitude of benefits from proper rest; here are just a few that go beyond boosting your mood or removing the circles under your eyes. Better sleep leads to…
- Greater creativity
- Improved memory
- Longer attention spans
- Better grades
- Greater energy
- Weight loss
- Reduced stress
Healthy Habits for Sound Sleep
Below are a number of suggestions, some you may already be doing and some you haven’t considered yet
- Sleep in on the front end instead – if you need more sleep, go to bed earlier rather than sleep in later.
- Cut out afternoon caffeine – avoid any caffeine drink including, coffee, teas and even flavoured waters after lunch.
- Choose proper foods before bed – some light snacks like bananas, yogurt or apples & peanut butter can have a positive impact on sleep
- Take a hot bath earlier – our bodies need to be cool for sleep, so if you want a relaxing hot bath, do it earlier in the evening rather than right before bedtime.
- Avoid stressful conversations – Kathy and I have a rule that we don’t talk about business or anything else that will get our minds working overtime after 9pm.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day – this may be difficult in the beginning but it’s a great way to train yourself to get on a healthy schedule.
- Stretch the body and calm the mind – quieting the mind can help your body relax
- Avoid screens – any bright lights, especially from screens can interfere with sleep; try to shut them off an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid social media – checking emails or looking up friends on FaceBook are a sure way to keep you from setting into a good night sleep.
You want to accomplish a lot this year and that’s great. But don’t sabotage your efforts by not getting enough sleep.
Q. On average how many hours do you sleep each night? Is it enough? What steps can you take to improve your sleep?