Counting Sheep

Who has some sort of device that tracks your daily steps and sleep pattern? I'm guessing that a small majority of people who will read this email will have one... I bought my Fitbit deliberately to record my steps and sleep and use it to such an extent now that it has become addictive, at least from a step-count point of view. However, even though I already knew my sleep is less than good (except when I go to Scotland and sleep amazingly, easily getting my 8 hours a night!), do I view it in the same way? I've been reflecting on this, as well as having discussions with leaders and a particular client. But what makes sleep so important?

Sleep is the single-most important thing we can do to reset the health of our brain and body each day. Without good sleep-health, your diet and exercise can make very little difference. What benefits does sleep bring us? Good memory - tests show that those who sleep after an intense period of learning retain more information and perform better than those that don’t. It’s like a real-life "save" button! There was a study undertaken with a NBA basketball player in relation to his performance when he got more than 8 hours sleep, and the results showed:

  • +12% overall performance increase 
  • +29% increase in points made/minute
  • +2% increase in 3-point percentage
  • +9% increase in free-throw percentage
  • -37% decrease in turnovers 
  • -45% in fouls committed

So what are the consequences of not getting enough sleep? A few of the most common consequences can be:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Slower responses
  • Poorer general performance
  • Irritability
  • Over-eating

What can you do to improve your sleep and avoid having to count sheep?!

  • Cut out caffeine, especially in the evenings
  • Low lighting before going to bed
  • Turn off the TV and other electrical devices before bedtime 
  • Don’t snooze your alarm
  • Take a warm bath or shower before bed
  • Exercise

Realise that sleep is vitally important;
Aspire to make obtaining 8 hours a night an addictive habit, just like your steps; and
Do take notice of your sleep patterns and take action where necessary.

I would love to hear whether you feel you get enough sleep, and if not, what could you begin to do about it?

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