When was the last time you had a great night’s sleep? You remember what that’s like, don’t you? You wake up rested, your body feels great, your muscles and mind are raring to go and you actually feel like you’re ready to take on a new day without any baggage from the day before. I can honestly say I don’t remember the last time I had a restful night like that. Like millions around the world, I miss sleep too often, stay up late routinely and wake up exhausted on a regular basis. Regardless of countless studies telling us otherwise, we’re addicted to missing sleep and it’s slowly making us all unhealthy.
Why do we allow ourselves to miss sleep? Certainly, there are medical reasons why some of us aren’t sleeping, but the majority of the sleep deprived aren’t suffering from insomnia or sleep apnea. Far too many of us are missing sleep because of self-sabotage. Here are the top three reasons why we put a dagger in our slumber.
1. WE WORK TOO MUCH.
Ever sit in your office and overhear someone boasting they pulled an all-nighter to finish in time to meet the deadline? It may have even been you (or, possibly me). Too many of us do it. We’ve mistaken our priorities into thinking that long hours equate with success. The truth is that if you can do the job in half the time and do it just as well, you shouldn’t be wasting time in your cubicle trying to show off. Glory isn’t in staying at the office–it’s in doing the job right.
2. WE ARE DEPRESSED.
Into 2011, one in every 10 adults in the United States reported being depressed. When you’re depressed you’re perpetually tired, but you also have trouble sleeping. As a result, you stay up late and get interrupted sleep at best. The following day, you’re exhausted. It’s a very difficult cycle to break. Depression can be beaten, but the unfortunate truth is that when a person is depressed, they tend not to reach out for help and eventually end up getting worse. If you think you’re depressed, seek help from your doctor.
3. WE ARE OVERSTIMULATED.
Copious amounts of caffeine are bad enough, but the average American has such an overstimulated brain that finding the time to sleep is becoming nearly impossible. Beyond that, all of this stimulation doesn’t let our brains decompress before hitting the sack, making it even more difficult to get quality sleep. My best advice is to power down everything at least one hour before going to bed. That means no late night texts, work emails or anything that you should be doing during business hours.
Missing sleep hurts us–and not just because of the obvious fatigue and eventual damaged health. In fact, research has shown that people who miss sleep regularly start to believe that they function perfectly fine. Moreover, it perpetuates the vicious cycle, making lack of sleep the norm. The result is a person who is perennially drained, unable to be fully active during the day, overstimulated, with an unhealthy diet. And that is one person you don’t want to be. You’ll be overweight, aged beyond your years, unable to be active or workout and ultimately unhealthy.
The bottom line is, we all need to sleep. While all of us are different, we should aim to get at minimum six hours of quality sleep every night.