The Best Prescription: Healthy Sleep

Five easy steps to improve your your overall health through sleep

Sleep better, sleep more. That’s the prescription for overcoming stress, reducing inflammation in the body and improving your day to day performance.

Western culture has long obsessed over the workaholic attitude. The perceived gateway to professional prestige and the corner offer is work-work-work, until you drop.

This cultural push for more leaves our college students depressed, our adults filled with stress and prone to substance abuse, and deteriorates our long term health.

The science today points to a much different success equation, quality sleep = mental health regulation + improved life performance.

People who fail to prioritize sleep may get ahead early, but like the heir, they will struggle in the long run losing out to the tortoises of the world playing the long game.

21st Century Obstacles

Our modern lifestyle actively fights against our need for sleep. Just a few examples

  • Pressure for constant communication availability via text and email
  • Cultural norms that rewarding the colleague or classmate who puts in the long hours
  • Bringing laptops, tablets and cellphones into bed that shine LED light into our eyes and promote “clickbait” web searching and compulsive communication.

We’ve all been there. We start reading one article at 9pm then 2 hours later we’ve clicked links to 10 mindless pop culture stories.

Or, we want to be the best employee so we check and re-check email updates to our bosses know we’re “always available.”

These actions have serious long term consequences.

Unintended Consequences of Poor Sleep

We think we’re getting ahead. Long term, we slowly deteriorate our cognitive functions, our will power, and our emotional regulation.

Quality sleep allows your body to literally clean out your brain. Without it, that foggy disjointed feeling of exhausted builds up until that feels like the new normal. You may never know what you are missing until you reshape your sleep habits

5 Easy Steps for Better Sleep

Change is about adapting the habits around that part of your life. Focus on these 5 easy steps to change your sleep habits.

  1. Screen shutdown. Start slow, with a goal of putting away any phone, tablet or PC screens within 5 minutes of bedtime. Build up to 30 minutes over a few weeks.
  2. Create a bedtime routine. Shape a consistent, repeatable process for the last hour of your day that your body and can begin to identify the pattern and set bedtime.
  3. NO emails within an hour of bed. Nothing is so important that it requires a 10pm reply. 7am the next day will do. Set the precedent. The world can handle missing your input for 9 hours.
  4. Track your “inputs”. Make a “sleep journal” or utilize an app that allows you to track what aspects of your day may be negatively impacting your sleep. The results may surprise you.  Did that 3pm latte keep you up until 12? Did that glass of wine to unwind actually lead to waking up restless at 4am? Track to make changes.
  5. Move during the day. The science on this is unanimous, even small amounts of exercise drastically improve sleep quality.