A Sleep Deprived Nation: Three Steps to Getting Back on Track
Proper sleep has been found to be a critical component of well-being. However, with mounting stress these days and more and more things to pay attention to we have become a sleep deprived nation to the detriment of our well-being. A recent article on CNN cited Dr. David Schulman, the medical director of the Emory Clinic Sleep Disorders laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia, saying that "It's been entertainment, Internet, playing games or TV. People have all sorts of distractions they didn't have back then (in previous years)." There is also the current stressor of the economy so people may feel they need to work longer hours to ensure the security of their position. The problem is lack of sleep can lead to anxiety, depression, and addictive behaviors not to mention car accidents and cardiovascular problems. So what can we do?
First, we need a slight paradigm shift reminding ourselves that when we're sleep deprived we don't function that well, so we are actually less effective in day to day activities and we become more irritable with our friends and family which strains social connection that is critical to our mental health.
Second, we need to take a look at what we're doing before bed? Are we watching our favorite action movie on TV? Are we checking Facebook late into the night or staying up reading the sensational news? Try and spend this time with an activity that calms the nervous system like taking a bath, reading a book, stretching or meditation. If it makes you uncomfortable to consider disconnecting from media before bed, this is all the more reason to try it out and see if it is more calming to your system.
Third, we need to recalibrate our bed times. What would it be like if you started to lie in bed 30 minutes before you normally do? What would you really be missing out on?
Sleep is a critical aspect of our well-being and is often overlooked because it doesn't appear to be an urgent problem.
Don't take my word for it. Let yourself do this experiment for a week and see how it makes you feel. When we begin to treat our bodies better, we elicit positive and caring feelings toward ourselves which tend to make us more resilient in during challenging times.
Please share your thoughts and questions below. Your additions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.