Are you catching enough ZzZz's?

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Are you catching enough ZzZz's?


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19 February 2015

Healthy sleep habits can improve our physical and mental wellbeing. On the other hand, being sleep deprived can negatively impact our mood, ability to focus and mental functions such as thinking, reasoning and remembering. The fact is we need sleep to be our best.

How are your sleep habits?

In a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, staff revealed that they needed approximately 7.6 hours of sleep a night. But yet when staff were measured, they were only getting 6.4 hours. Generally speaking, within a week these individuals would accrue a sleep debt greater than one night’s sleep. If you continue to miss out on sleep you can see how this debt would accumulate overtime.

The alarming truth is inadequate sleep can really affect our risk of stress, accidents and poor physical and mental health. For instance, an Australian study on workplace accidents revealed that fatigue can have a similar effect on performance as having a blood-alcohol level of 0.10%; a level that is more than twice the legal limit permitted for operating machinery in Australia.

How alert are you? Take the alertness test created by the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

We all seem to sacrifice sleep even though the quality and quantity of sleep we get largely impacts our health, safety and wellbeing.

You can modify your habits to wipe out any sleep debt you may be accumulating:

  • Establish a regular bed time that allows you to get 8 hours of sleep

  • Go to bed 30 minutes before you would like to be asleep and spend 30 minutes prior to that winding down

  • Avoid caffeinated drinks at least 8 hours before you sleep

  • Eat dinner at least 4 hours before bed

  • Exercise regularly (but at least 3 hours before bed)

  • Avoid alcohol as it causes a fragmented sleep

  • Practice mindfulness to avoid ruminating thoughts that occur when trying to sleep

  • If possible, keep your bedroom cool

  • Do not take long naps during the day, restrict to 20 minutes in the early afternoon

  • Try using a smart phone or PC sleep application that promotes healthy sleeping habits. Try Sleep Timing.

How many hours of sleep do you get? What do you do to improve your sleep habits?
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