Recently Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer overslept for a huge meeting with important ad execs in France. Too tired to wake up on time, she blew a vital meeting. Mayer is not the only American not getting enough sleep.
According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans average only 6.8 hours a night. Doctors meanwhile recommended 7 to 9 hours nightly. One of the reasons is technology. “Recent advances in technology have also led to a surge in screen time with televisions, personal computers, tablets, and smartphones — electronic devices that emit blue light that can hurt sleep,” reports Everyday Health.
Sleep is important to your health, of course. “We do see very high correlations between sleep quality and general health, particularly with regards to sickness, healing, and signs of aging. Not to mention psychological impact, such as mood and irritability. Sleep is a product of evolution that helps the body heal and restore itself physically and psychologically,” sleep expert Kenny Kline, CEO and founder of Slumber Sage, tells MadameNoire via email.
In fact, a lack of sleep can have terrible side effects. “Chronic sleep deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer and stroke,” registered nurse Terry Cralle, a certified clinical sleep educator and spokesperson at the Better Sleep Council says. “Sufficient sleep is essential for learning, memory, creativity, resilience, athletic performance, academic performance, work performance. A lack of sleep increases the risk of depression, mood disorders, and increases stress levels.”
And better sleeping habits can make you more productive–and happier– at work.”Sleep deprivation is associated with negative work outcomes including occupational accidents, absenteeism and presenteeism,” says Cralle. “Sufficient sleep has even been associated with increased job satisfaction.”
There are things you can do to get a good night’s sleep. Here are some tips on improving your sleeping habits.
—Watch what you eat. Your food intake can affect how well you sleep. “Eat more calcium. Low calcium in the diet effects your bones in the long-term, but also sleep in the short term! That warm glass of milk your grandparents always talked about wasn’t just a myth,” explains Kline.
—Skip the tech. Technology can make you anxious and being exposed to the light from your computer screen will inhibit sleep. “Avoid electronics at least one hour before bedtime. Also, dim the lights in the evening and avoid bright lighting prior to bedtime,” says Cralle.
—Slow it down. Sometimes we are just too wound up to sleep. So slow yourself down through meditation.”Most people don’t sleep deeply because of their emotional state, due to an active mind and stress,” says Kline. “Calm yourself down in the evenings with meditation or another peaceful activity, and learn to practice slowing your thoughts and preparing for good sleep.”
—Have a routine at night and follow it. “Bedtime rituals are not just for children. Adults need them, too. Have a routine and follow it every night before bedtime. It will help you wind down and transition from wake to sleep,” suggests Cralle.
—Have the right sleep gear. If your bed is too hard and uncomfortable, how can you get a good sleep? “Invest in good sleep products. You don’t need to buy the most expensive mattress/pillow/sheets/etc on the market, but find what works for you and invest in quality merchandise. You spend about 1/3 of your life in a bed, so treat yourself right,” notes Kline.
—Set the mood. Vibrant colors in your bedroom might keep you wide awake at night so pay attention to the decor. “The sleep environment is very important to a good night’s sleep. Turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary. Remove clutter, work and the TV. Keep the bedroom clean. According to a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) survey, people sleep better when their bedrooms are clean and comfortable,” explains Cralle.