The five golden rules of sleep: Ignore them at your own risk

In a culture that devalues sleep, we think we can accomplish more if we sleep less; nothing could be further from the truth

Co-authors: Lauren Seitz, Emily Coolen

Why do we persist in thinking that it’s efficient, effective, and macho to function on as few hours of sleep as possible?

For one, we simply don’t understand the importance of sleep and the serious deleterious consequences of sleep deprivation on health and performance. These include a significantly higher risk of high blood pressure [heart attacks and strokes], type II diabetes, depression, influenza, skin and allergy conditions, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity. Furthermore, sleep deprivation disrupts cognitive processing, including acquisition, retention and recall of information, as well as diminishing our creativity, and critical thinking skills.

Along with not understanding sleep’s importance, many of us suffer occasionally from one or more of the 89 known sleep disorders and are unaware of the proper treatments. In a culture that devalues sleep, we think we can accomplish more if we sleep less. Nothing could be further from the truth. After 16 hours of being awake, we are incapable of performing efficiently and effectively; mistakes are made and accidents and illness often follow. The bottom line is that most of us have no clue as to what constitutes good sleep hygiene and how to obtain a great night’s sleep for a better tomorrow.

Here are five golden rules that will help you get great sleep.

1. Determine your personal sleep requirement

How many hours of sleep do you get per night? The majority of us are moderately to severely sleep deprived. In fact, 71 per cent do not meet the recommended 7.5 – 9.25 hours per night.

Determine and meet your sleep requirement every night. It’s hard-wired, not adaptable! There are individual differences that are genetically determined. For example, if both of your parents are short sleepers, you may be one of the lucky five per cent of the population who can perform satisfactorily on less than six hours of sleep per night.

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This was first published in the June 2016 of Complete Wellbeing.

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