An important aspect that helps lower our stress levels is getting regular, restful sleep. Sadly, many leaders experience periods of inadequate sleep that can last from just a few days, to several weeks or even longer.
When this happens, leaders ability to deal with stress weakens.
Additionally, the frustration of not being able to either get to sleep, or stay asleep, adds to leaders source of stress and can eventually lead to burnout!
Some Serious Questions
- Leaders, are you part of the Sleep Sick Society?
- Do you ignore the fact that you are tired?
- Do you do too much, and stress yourself to the point of exhaustion?
Some Causes of Interrupted Sleep?
- Stress eating - Stress unleashes hormones that have an effect on what we eat. When stressed, we have a tendency to grab the high fat, sugary “comfort foods.” Wheat is also a culprit according to Dr. William Davis in the book Wheat Belly
- Physical tension – Stress can result from many things: a high-pressure job, relationships, financial problems, and personal changes in our life.
- Surfing the Internet before bed - The bright light of our computer screens may alter our body’s biological clock and suppress the natural hormone production of melatonin that’s critical to the normal Sleep-Wake Cycle
- Excessive caffeinated products – Caffeinated beverages; stimulants that block adenosine (energy transfer). According to Psychology Today, your brain does not sense exhaustion and it receives a gradual stream of alertness-inducing adrenaline. You typically experience caffeine’s greatest effects within 30 minutes to an hour, and the extra pep boost may last up to four to six hours
- Overworked – Taking your work to bed with you will definitely keep you awake at night.
- Emotional Strain – Anxiety, depression, worrying, anger and resentment, and PTSD are all symptoms of emotional strain that keeps us awake at night.
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Consequences of Interrupted Sleep
“Did you know that sleep is the single most important factor in predicting how long you will live?” ~ William C. Dement
If sleep is cut short:
- Cognitive abilities are compromised
- We wake up less prepared
- Have difficulty making decisions
- Short-term memory becomes clouded
- We feel like we are in a mental fog
“Lack of adequate sleep, or sleep deprivation, also reduces leaders workplace productivity, public safety, and personal well-being.”
Good Sleep Hygiene Habits
The most important sleep hygiene measure is to maintain a regular sleep/wake pattern seven days a week. Leaders need to get the proper amount of rest, 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night. Do you know when your mind is in a subconscious mental state of relaxation? Before you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning are times when your mind is relaxed.
“When you are playing mind games, exercising (earlier in the day), taking a hot shower/long bath, or just relaxing, your mind is in a relaxed state. “
Other things you can do to clear your mind before bedtime; keep a pen and pad on your night stand and write down goals you want to achieve. This will take the mental stress of what you want to accomplish off your mind so that you can sleep better. Additionally, try exercising your mind.
What are brain aerobics? Challenging your brain with novel tasks (anything new or different). In order for an activity to be considered brain aerobics, three conditions must be met. The activity needs to:
- Engage your attention
- Involve more than one of your senses
- Break a routine activity in an unexpected, nontrivial way
Ever Try Reading Something Upside Down or Backwards?
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Opposite Hand Tasks - If you are right-handed; try brushing your teeth with your left hand. If you are left handed; try writing a letter to yourself with your right hand.
Riddles – Figure out riddles that require you to think outside the puzzle content itself and use knowledge of language, experience, and other “external mental activities” to solve it.
For example: “What is yours yet others use more than you do?”
Leaders, are you part of the Sleep Sick Society? What is interrupting your sleep? Do you practice good sleep hygiene habits? Have you ever tried brain aerobics? I would love to hear your comments.
>>> Answer to Riddle: your name
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Debra Olejownik is a consultant with DJC Core Consulting & Support Services, LLC
She helps clients identify comprehensive solutions to problems that inspires change
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Image Sources: visualphotos.com
- Weekend Highlights: Sleep, Sleep, and Brunch in Bed (realfoodbryn.wordpress.com)
- Why Sleep? Helps Manage Stress (terphealthfacts.wordpress.com)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (plushbeds.com)