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Sleep Your Way to Improved Focus and Performance

By Alan Gehringer

    Sun, Jun 12, 2016 @ 12:00 PM Accountable Leaders & Teams

    Are you getting enough sleep? Doing so can really improve your focus and performance. Sleep-to-improve-performance.jpg

    According to a Gallup Survey, fifty-nine percent of Americans get seven or more hours of sleep at night while 40% get less than seven hours.

    I recently wrote a blog about getting focused and reaping the benefits of doing so. If you had a chance to read it, you may recall one of the ways to improve your focus is to get enough sleep. I believe this is such an important topic I thought it was worth exploring a bit more. 

    As an adult, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to function at your best while keeping your body and brain healthy. Most adults only get 5-6 hours of sleep, and the quality of what they do get is questionable. I got a wake up call about seven years ago when my father underwent heart surgery. Little did he know, he had sleep apnea which caused severe damage to his heart valve. Fortunately, surgery went well and my father recovered with flying colors. He now uses a c-pap machine nightly to ensure he receives enough oxygen to get a good night’s rest. If your partner complains of your snoring or hears you gasping for breath throughout the night, please get checked! 

    What are some things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep? Here is a list of tips I compiled and learned through the years you may find useful. 

    10 Tips for Better Sleep:

    • Try your best to go to bed at the same time each night. Our body gets used to a certain rhythm and does better when we stick to it. 
    • Do not eat too late at night. This can wake you up as your body begins to digest. That said, a small amount of peanut butter or a light snack before bed can actually help with sleep.
    • Stay away from bright monitors and televisions the last hour of the evening. The bright lights disturb your circadian rhythms. If you must watch TV or spend time on your iPad, wear light blocking glasses. I actually do this, and believe it or not, it works.
    • Avoid caffeine or energy drinks after 1:00 PM or so. It takes at least eight hours to process it through your body. Nicotine can also be disruptive to your sleep.
    • Avoid alcohol. Even though it seems like a couple drinks can relax you, alcohol interferes with your sleep later in the evening and has a negative effect on the amount of deep sleep or REM you experience.
    • Try some green or other decaffeinated herbal tea to relax you before bed.
    • Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet. Avoid having a TV or watching other video devices in your sleeping room.
    • Try earplugs if you are a light sleeper to block out your partner or other environmental noises.
    • Add white noise to the room with a HEPA air cleaner or another electronic device. This can break up the stillness of the night to aid your sleeping.
    • Get out of bed and read for a while if you cannot sleep, rather than tossing and turning all night. Return to bed when you feel drowsy.

    As a last resort, there are many supplements like melatonin you can take that are natural; although, it is best to avoid them if at all possible. My personal experience years past was they lose their effectiveness over a period of time and are no substitute for the other good practices listed above. 

    There are many other things you can do to improve your sleep, performance, and focus. I look forward to hearing some of your best practices. One thing for sure, the benefits of a good night's sleep are abundant. Your attitude and outlook are more positive while your risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and premature aging decrease dramatically. It can even help you control your appetite and maintain your ideal weight. All this leads to a happy productive lifestyle.

    Good luck and rest well, Alan

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