Time management: making sleep a priority

With all the things we want to do (and need to do) with our days, sometimes sleep gets shorted. I’m not talking about a household with a new baby — I’m talking about a household like my own where I’m balancing commitments related to work, family, friends, pets, household maintenance, exercise, etc. So many of us sometimes skip on sleep, but the more I read, the more that seems like a really bad idea.

If you have regular problems with insomnia, you might look into sleep hygiene techniques; you might also want to see a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders.

But some of us who don’t have babies, don’t have insomnia, and don’t have other reasons why we can’t dedicate enough time to sleep, we simply don’t make sleep a priority. The following information is encouraging me to make sure I do get enough sleep.

Tricia Salinero pointed me to an NPR report about a recent study on mice, and what it may mean to us.

“While the brain sleeps, it clears out harmful toxins, a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, researchers say.”

The Guardian reports that some scientists are skeptical of the study, but it certainly is intriguing, if in no way conclusive.

Rachel Hills pointed me to the BBC website, where Michael Mosley reported on what happens during both deep sleep and REM sleep, and why it’s important to get enough of both.

“We get more REM sleep in the last half of the night. Which means that if you are woken unexpectedly, your brain may not have dealt with all your emotions — which could leave you stressed and anxious.”

On the Personal Health blog of The New York Times website, there’s an article by Jane E. Brody that begins:

Think you do just fine on five or six hours of shut-eye? Chances are, you are among the many millions who unwittingly shortchange themselves on sleep.

Research shows that most people require seven or eight hours of sleep to function optimally. Failing to get enough sleep night after night can compromise your health and may even shorten your life. From infancy to old age, the effects of inadequate sleep can profoundly affect memory, learning, creativity, productivity and emotional stability, as well as your physical health.

To learn more, I’m planning to read Dreamland, by David K. Randall. Here’s just one quote, courtesy of Brain Pickings:

Sleep is ingrained in our cultural ethos as something that can be put off, dosed with coffee, or ignored. And yet maintaining a healthy sleep schedule is now thought of as one of the best forms of preventative medicine.

But for now, I’m smiling as I read about Lucy Kellaway’s movement, called YAWNS, which I found on the Financial Times via Metafilter. YAWNs is an acronym for Yes A Wonderful Night’s Sleep, and it advocates “no more boasting about being awake. Anyone admitting in public to getting up at 4 a.m. would have to prove they went to sleep at 8 p.m. and were still getting eight hours.”

Editor’s note: For tips on how to get the sleep your body needs and organize your time and space to make it possible, check out “Want to be more productive? Get more sleep.” Also, consider keeping a sleep journal to track how much sleep you get each night and how you feel the next day. Each person has different sleep requirements, and these requirements can change as you age.

4 Comments for “Time management: making sleep a priority”

  1. posted by ling on

    Long time lurking, first time post here.
    I agree with you on this. I still aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. If I don’t have enough, I’m tired the next day. If I need to wake up early, I just go to bed earlier the night before. I have got restless sleep for a few weeks now, but a breathing tip from my chiropractor help me to sleep better now.

  2. posted by Jackie on

    What do you do if your room mate have insomnia and you can´t sleep early?

  3. posted by Ms Hanson on

    Putting my head to bed took practice. My mantra was my prayer: Peace, peace, peace. Herbal remedy is my back-up plan. Cool room and layers of bedding, reading, soft music or rainy soundtrack, hot bath before retiring.
    My friend The Wizard says: Your bed is good for two things, and thinking is not one of them.

    Invest in decent pillows and a topper if you cannot afford a good mattress.

    Finally, if your bedroom is not a sanctuary, sleep will be elusive. Make it your retreat from the outside world. Nothing matters more.

    @ling, I would like to know that chiro breathing tip.

  4. posted by X on

    What happens when I get enough sleep is that I have more energy. When I have more energy, I exercise more. I take my vitamins because my brain is clear from fog and I remember to take them. Because I have more energy, I have the time to prepare meals from scratch and therefore I have a more healthy diet.

    And I just enjoy life more.

    When I don’t get enough sleep, I’m tired. I’m “too tired” to do the laundry, cook, take a walk, concentrate on a sit-com plot. I manage to go to work, perform adequately there, and get home again. House work suffers, my diet suffers. I become a bump on a log, doing nothing and enjoying nothing.

    So for me, “protecting” my sleep is hands down the most important thing I can do for me.

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