How to Prevent Sleep Deprivation, a National Epidemic!

By:  Helen M. Thamm, APRN, CPC

     Do you routinely get less than six hours of sleep per night?  If you do, you are not alone.  We are now considered to be a nation of people who are so much “on the go” we don’t take time for needed rest and recuperation. People who do not get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night, tend to get sleepy and are less able to concentrate during the day. They also tend to get sick with “colds” and “flu” more often.  At work, this may mean being less productive.  Sleep deprivation can also cause people to become “cranky”, which is not pleasant for anyone who has to work with them!

Are You a Late To Bed Person?

If you recognize you may be one of the many who have become so busy you just don’t feel you have the time to sleep, prioritizing what has to get done, and possibly rearranging the less essential “to do list” items, might help.  I admit, one of my worst priorities at times is watching some favorite TV shows in the late evening.  By the time I get my shower and get ready for bed, sometimes I am late.  Then I either have to rush through my morning stretches, and eat breakfast on the run, cut some sleep time, or even come into work a few minutes late.  If you identify TV watching, web searching or gaming, etc. take up a lot of your evening, setting a time limit can help.

Are You a Late Night Worrier?

Sometimes just getting to bed might not be the only issue.  If you have an active mind (like mine) you may also spend several minutes—or even hours going over the day’s stressors, such as a co-worker’s sarcastic, disrespectful comments, being given what seems to be an impossible amount of work from your boss, or possibly trying to let go of hurt feelings over a disagreement

with your spouse/significant other.   Even when you get to sleep, however, the quality might not be restful.  You can tell when you have had “one of those nights” because you usually feel tired, not rested when you awaken.  Sometimes I even find my bed covers in a ball, and my feet sticking out where the sheets/blankets are supposed to be if I have been working out my stressors in my sleep!

   So What are Some Secrets to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep:

  1.  Go to bed about the same time every night making getting 7-9 hours sleep your priority.
  2. Refrain from caffeine for at least five hours before bed, as it is a stimulant.
  3. Don’t drink alcohol before bed as it will “wear off” in the middle of the night and may cause you to wake up feeling anxious.
  4. Keep your room dark and free from electronics that have lights on. (Exile your TV from the bedroom).
  5. Replace exciting internet games, TV shows/movies or news with listening to relaxing/positive CDs or reading an inspirational book just before bed.
  6. If you have had a disagreement with your spouse/significant other, many old married couples say, don’t go to bed angry.  Forgiveness work is a powerful tool for letting go of hurt feelings.
  7. Try some moderate (enjoyable) exercise after work, but at least three hours before bedtime to reduce the workday stress, but since it also gets your metabolism pumping, it will keep you up if you exercise just before bed.

While some people may need medication to help them sleep occasionally, taking it routinely can actually cause dependence, which is another whole problem.

   A good jingle to remember:  You can’t feel at your best, unless you get enough rest!

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About the Author:  Helen Thamm, APRN, CPC is a licensed nurse therapist in Illinois and Wyoming as well as a Certified Professional Coach, who is a career and wellness specialist. You can obtain free tips on career success and wellness issues at NurseCareerSuccess.com and you can listen to her career success radio series on the Events Page.  Leadership challenges are creatively overcome in her new manager’s success toolkit book:  “How to Manage with a Magic Wand (No, Don’t Hit Your “Problem Employees” over the Head with it!)” and work/life re-balance in the bestseller “The Wellness Code” co-authored with Dr. John Ellis, et al which are available at Amazon.com.  Helen can be reached for questions at:  http://nursecareersuccess.com.

 

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