Sleep. Rest. Often used interchangeably, most people understand what is meant when a person asks if you’ve had any sleep/rest? When someone uses one of these words, it is mainly to ask if the body, mind, and spirit has had a chance to relax (uninterrupted) in order to rejuvenate. We all know what rest/sleep looks like when we hear it. I can picture it now. Rest means laying on a comfortable bed and finally breathing without wondering what person or thing will interrupt my moment. Sleep often does not mean tossing and turning all night, only to wake up in the morning wondering if the eyes ever closed. Sleep and rest means peace, tranquility, relation, and rejuvenation. However, very few Americans receive this. Compared to people in 1942 (you read that right), Americans now get less than six hours of sleep per night (CDC). People in the age range of 45-54 receive the least hours of sleep per night (with ages 25-44 following by 0.7-1.1%) and are known to get the least amount of sleep out of all age groups. So what’s keeping us awake? The better question is: what’s not keeping us awake?
Ask anyone about their reason for lack of sleep, and you might not be surprised by what you hear: working long hours; for some, raising a family; for others, caring for elderly parents; working two or more jobs; going back to school; paying for kids’ college; etc. These reasons are pretty normal, however, for many people, the addition of the past year has made life extra stressful, equating to more loss of sleep. For some, the stress of the pandemic, overexposure to screens (had enough Zoom meetings?), and being isolated has increased anxiety and stress-related fatigue. All of these things impact how well we all sleep during the night, along with how much sleep we get. In other words, if you’re feeling more tired than usual, you’re not alone.
Now, all hope is not lost and there are some things that you can do to get back on a sleeping schedule. It may seem basic, but your mind and body will thank you.
- Put the phone away: If you’ve been working from home or if you’re the person who constantly has a phone on you, then placing it elsewhere will help you, greatly. If you place the phone across the room at night, you’re less likely to grab and scroll. You won’t want to get out of bed and walk across the room to the phone, which means less screen time at night.
- Decompress at night: Whether you exercise, take a hot bath or shower, or read, t’s important to find some way to calm your mind and decompress from the day. I enjoy writing in my journal to get the thoughts out, but do whatever works for you. Make sure you decompress where it’s quiet.
- Plan you days strategically. Part of not being able to rest easily is that we are constantly distracted. If you’re normal, then part of that distraction is wondering if you did everything you needed to do that day. To erase the doubt, be strategic and purposeful about how you plan your days. That way, you can sleep knowing that everything else can wait until the next day.
- Know that work will be there. Okay, this is the hardest because I’m even bad at it. A great mentor of mine told me the following: “Work will never end. There will be more of it tomorrow. Go and enjoy your life.” It was the permission I needed to turn my brain away from work in order to enjoy everything that I’d worked so hard to attain. Know this for yourself so that you can enjoy other parts of your life.
It’s so easy to forget about taking care of ourselves (i.e. sleeping) that when we ignore it, we face the consequences, quickly. If you’re in that space of not getting the rest that you need, be sure to strategize in order to make it a priority. Your mind and body will appreciate it.
Keep leading and be safe,