FIT for Women, Health & Wellness

Sleep smarts

By The Edith Sanford team

May 5, 2014

sleep smarterWe all know sleep is essential to our health. But other demands on our time — work deadlines, household chores, kids — always seem to outnumber the hours in the day. Who has time for the luxury of sleep?

Apparently, the answer is: not many of us.

Sleep deprivation is a growing epidemic, and the effects are more far-reaching than you may realize. According to the CDC, skimping on shuteye increases the risk for chronic diseases such as cancer, hypertension, diabetes, depression and obesity. That’s not to mention the disastrous effects on day-to-day quality of life and productivity.

Take our sleep quiz below and learn how lack of sleep and poor sleep hygiene may be taking their toll on all aspects of your health and well-being.

True or False — There’s no harm in powering through on too little sleep.

FALSE: This sort of thinking is just plain dangerous. In fact, being sleep deprived makes you a risk to yourself and others.

The National Department of Transportation estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually. That’s a number that should make everyone commit to prioritizing sleep.

True or False — Giving up sleep for work makes you a better employee.

FALSE: Imagine how impressed your boss would be if you came to work intoxicated. She’d be thrilled, right? Well, the reality is that lack of sleep can affect you just like alcohol. In fact, a week of sleeping just four or five hours a night impairs you as much as having a blood alcohol level of .1%.

If you want to learn, retain information and use creativity to advance your career, sleep deprivation will actually hold you back.

True or False — A little nightcap (or two) will help you sleep.

FALSE: Talk about a misleading name! Sure, a nightcap may make you feel sleepy, but alcohol can actually disrupt your deep sleep cycles, meaning you’ll wake up feeling unrested.

Skip that bedtime drink and opt for caffeine-free herbal tea or warm milk, instead. You may feel like a bit of a square, but at least you’ll be a well-rested square.

True or False — Using your phone or computer before bed is a good way to unwind.

FALSE: While it’s become the norm to lay in bed with laptops or phones, reading, tweeting or bingeing on Netflix, what you think is a nice way to relax before bed is actually sabotaging your sleep. Artificial light, especially the blue light that emanates from computer and phone screens, suppresses the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. That means it will actually take you longer to fall asleep.

Make an effort to put away screens at least an hour before bed and you’ll find it’s easier to drift off. Plus you’ll be less likely to lose track of time by getting sucked into a black hole of searching recipes on Pinterest.

While it seems like we’re busier than ever, we can’t lose sight of the importance of adequate sleep. Make a commitment to turn off screens and head to bed early. You’re worth it!