Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Insuring Peak Performance: Sleep 101

Yesterday we talked about how sleep deprivation affects us. Today we’ll talk about how to avoid sleep deprivation by making it a priority to sleep well. Why? Because how will we manage stress, organize life, and accomplish our goals if we are sleep-walking?

How much sleep do we need anyway?
The National Sleep Foundation suggests:

Newborns (1-2 months): 10.5 - 18 hours
Infants (3-11 months): 9-12 hours during night and 30-minutes to two-hour naps, 1-4 times a day
Toddlers (1-3 years): 12-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years) 11-13 hours
School-aged Children (5-12 years: 10-11 hours
Teens (11-17): 8.5-9.25 hours
Adults: 7-9 hours
Older Adults: 7-9 hours

Did you know that your body keeps track of sleep it misses? A good way to tell if you’re sleep deprived is if you fall asleep when you are sitting. If you are sleep deprived, your body goes into deep sleep quickly, allowing you to make up your deprivation without going through all the stages of sleep.

So how do we get a good night’s sleep?

- Exercise. The National Sleep Foundation states, “Exercise improves sleep because it is a physical stressor to the body. The brain compensates for physical stress by increasing deep sleep. Therefore, we sleep more deeply and soundly after exercise.”

The exercise should include vigorous use of the legs and should be done at least three hours before bedtime, to allow your body to calm down before sleeping.

- Maintain a regular bedtime and a regular waking time, even on the weekends. A regular wake-up time gets your body into a rhythm, including a natural sleep schedule.

- Create a calming bedtime routine to prepare for sleep – reading, relaxing music, deep breathing. If you take a warm bath or shower, leave enough time for your body to cool down before bedtime. Higher temperatures stimulate your body and cool temps promote sleep.

- Turn off the lights! Our body produces melatonin, a hormone that helps stabilize our body rhythms. Help your melatonin, which is induced by darkness, by dimming the lights, turning off the computer and the TV half an hour before sleep so your body will naturally become sleepy.

If you have trouble getting to sleep, you might want to try taking some melatonin to get you over that hump. It’s available in most drugstores for just a few dollars. My husband, who has chronic sleep problems, can attest to its benefits!

Wear an eye mask or get light-blocking shades or curtains to block out light. Use ear plugs or use a fan or other noise to block out noise, if necessary.

- Keep your bedroom cool, which promotes sleep.

Sleep is too important to miss, yet most people cut out sleep when they are pressed for time. That should be the last thing we do, so we can function optimally.

What do you include in your or your child's bedtime routine?

Related post: Sleep is Non-negotiable!, Getting Organized for School - A Successful Day Starts the Night Before, Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep