Whether you’re working on your latest project or preparing for a big meeting, there are plenty of times that you might skip a few hours of sleep.
Bad sleeping habits won’t just have you reaching for an extra cup of coffee the next day, it could have real consequences on your work and personal life. What’s worse is when you can’t seem to get a good night’s rest, and you’re not sure why.
Drowsiness is expected after losing sleep, and it comes with risks. When you’re running low on sleep, you’ll have problems focusing and making decisions. More importantly, you’ll be more likely to make mistakes. If you’re not getting enough sleep every night, it can have the same effects as not sleeping at all for a couple of days. The prolonged effects of sleep deprivation can include a number of health concerns as well. Without proper sleep, you can suffer from hallucinations, psychosis, and issues with long-term memory. If you’re not getting enough sleep tonight, it can affect your abilities well into the future.
Your brain needs a healthy amount of sleep in order to create new pathways between neurons and maintain overall function. But it’s not just your career that can face the effects of a troubled sleep; your emotional well-being can be at-risk as well. You won’t just wake up on the wrong side of the bed; you could face mood disorders like depression. “Mood and sleep use the same neurotransmitters,” Dr. Joyce Walseben, a psychiatrist and the former director of Bellevue Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Centertold The Atlantic. “It’s very hard to tell if someone has sleep loss or depression.”
According to the American Sleep Association, sleep is also important in the regulation of other hormones as well. Findings show that sleep helps regulate the production of hormones that regulate appetite and it helps the body process glucose. Without regular sleep, you may find yourself experiencing extreme weight gain or weight loss, and could even put yourself at greater risk of diabetes.
Getting enough sleep is usually more difficult than just sleeping more hours. If it was that easy, there wouldn’t be a market for sleep aids and medications. For most people, there are usually other underlying issues that are keeping them from falling asleep or staying asleep. So what can you do to help yourself get the sleep you need?
The first step you can take to getting a full night’s rest is getting your body used to a routine. Nightly routines can set off reminders to our body to let us know that it’s time for bed. While most of us spent our childhoods trying to escape bedtime, setting one for yourself will help your body get set into a schedule. After a while, your body will set its own clock.
If you also have a night time ritual, your body will associate the habits you form with falling asleep. Whether it’s setting aside 30 minutes to read, setting up a nightly skincare regime, or taking a relaxing bath, your body will recognize that these tasks mean that it’s time to sleep.
What we put into our bodies always has an effect, so we need to be aware of those habits. You can face increased heart rates from taking in too many stimulants, keeping you awake instead of falling asleep. Nicotine and caffeine are common culprits that keep you from sleeping. Cutting back on coffee and cigarettes can help diminish some of your difficulties sleeping.
Even taking other medication can be inhibiting proper sleep cycles. According to Entrepreneur, sleeping pills could actually be hindering your sleep instead of fixing the issue. Everything that goes into your body is going to produce some kind of effect.
It’s also important to get to know your sleep cycle. There are sleep tracking apps and wearables that can help you keep track of your biometrics during your sleep cycle. Wearable technology like SKIIN* can help you track your heart rate, breathing, movement, and temperature while you sleep. This data will tell you how much time you’re in the various stages of sleep (ie. light sleep, deep sleep, and REM), and how much time you spend sleeping on your back, front and side.
Tracking movement and heart rate can help in quantifying how restful your sleep is. Just because you’re in bed for eight hours, doesn’t mean you’re getting the sleep you need. If you’re tossing and turning throughout the night, it’s most likely a sign that you’re not sleeping soundly enough to get any actual rest. Even just tracking your temperature can help you set up strategies to keep you asleep once your eyes close. Keeping track of when your body gets too warm or too cold can help you choose your pajamas more strategically or let you know if it might be time to invest in a cooling pad for your bed.
Sleep isn’t just important in the short term. A proper night’s sleep can set you on the right path to a successful career and a happy life. You just have to take matters into your own hands – or at least your own bed.