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E-Quipped to... Catch Some Z’s
This newsletter introduces Counting Sheep… to Get More Sleep – an article I have written and posted on my website.
Getting more sleep matters. It really matters.
Recent research shows us that sleep deprivation affects us much more than we used to think. We now know that lack of sleep significantly hinders all of our abilities, and this includes our cognitive functioning. When we are sleep deprived, not only is our performance negatively impacted, it is also much less likely that we will ever be able to perform at our best, no matter how hard we try and how many hours we put in.
Image by: Maxpixel
What Sleep Studies Show
One study done in 2018 found that people who sleep for five to six hours per night are 19 percent less productive than people who regularly sleep for seven to eight hours per night, and people who sleep for less than five hours are nearly 30 percent less productive. So although the people sleeping less are awake for longer, they are actually getting less done in the day. Perhaps this is because other research shows that only getting six hours of sleep makes tasks that require focus, deep thinking or problem-solving a lot harder to do.
Another study shows that sleep deprivation makes completing any activity that requires multiple steps (which is just about everything we do) much more difficult, because the sleep deprivation has an impact on placekeeping (the ability to complete a series of steps without losing one's place, despite potential interruptions).
The results showed that sleep deprivation doubles the odds of making placekeeping errors and triples the number of lapses in attention. These results suggest that although some sleep-deprived people might be able to hold it together when doing routine tasks (e.g. a doctor taking a patient's vitals), they are less likely to be successful when completing an activity that requires following multiple steps (e.g. a doctor completing a medical procedure).
What this tells us is that sleep-deprived individuals need to exercise caution in absolutely everything that they do. They simply cannot trust that they won't make costly errors, because often, like when behind the wheel of a car, such errors can have tragic consequences.
Before you say, "Yeah, but that's other people; lack of sleep doesn’t affect me”, think again.
Although it is physically possible for some people to get by on only four or five hours of sleep a night, research tells us that only a tiny fraction of the population is actually built to function well on such little sleep. The chances that any of us fall into that tiny fraction are pretty slim, which is why we need to pay attention to the principles of good sleep hygiene.
To read about the principles of good sleep hygiene, read my article Insomnia.
For more findings from sleep studies read my article Counting Sheep… to Get More Sleep.
Create A Sleep Routine
If you are going to take getting enough sleep seriously, creating a sleep routine (a regular ‘go-to-bed’ and ‘get-up’ time) is an excellent place to start. Here’s how to do it…
Tonight, choose a bedtime. This is the time that you will be in bed and will turn off the lights ready for sleep. Note, you are not choosing the time that you will go to sleep, because that's harder to control. You are choosing the time that lets you get seven to nine hours of sleep. So "bedtime" is not as the time you will definitely fall asleep, but is the earliest time you might go to sleep.
Then just relax. Let your mind wander. Don’t focus on anything. Don't think about going to sleep. Don't try to go to sleep. Just chill. If it takes you a long time to fall asleep, that's alright. In my article Insomnia I mention that it is quite normal for a person to take 20 minutes to fall asleep. Those people that do fall asleep instantly are either totally exhausted or have trained themselves to fall asleep quickly.
The next day, don’t take a nap during the day, but do go to bed at the same time again. Remember to see it as bedtime, not sleep time, and just chill. In time, your body will start to adapt.
But what if you really struggle to get to sleep?
Techniques to Help you Fall Asleep
The "Military Method" to fall asleep in less than 2 minutes is a deep muscle relaxation technique that has been used by the military for years to help troops fall asleep quickly and easily. The method is simple and can be done anywhere, without any equipment, just by following a simple procedure.
For the Military Method procedure read my article Counting Sheep… to Get More Sleep.
Clear Your Mind. This is often difficult, but it is essential if you want to go to sleep. Try:
Even try counting sheep – this age old cliché’ is just another way to help you to focus on one repetitive thing and so clear your mind.
These techniques might not help you get to sleep faster the first few times, but the more consistently you use a technique, the better you'll get at relaxing and letting go. Which, at the end of the day (pun intended!), is how we all fall asleep.
For more information and techniques to help you sleep, read my article Counting Sheep… to Get More Sleep.
Thank you for the Feedback
Thanks to Gordon, Anthea, Paul, Lieze-mari for the feedback after the last newsletter.
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About These Emails
You may have been forwarded this email by a friend. In that case, allow me to introduce myself. I am a psychologist, speaker, trainer, coach and hat lover based in Kloof, a suburb of Durban, South Africa. I also do online counselling and coaching and I have clients all over the world.
On my website you'll find lots of free articles, posters and worksheets. I have written and created them all with the intention of helping you find your inner winner. Read, them use them, share them!
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+27 82 491 1136
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