Carve Out a Better Night’s Sleep

So much attention is paid to diet and exercise, but what about sleep?  Sleep has a greater effect on mood, energy and productivity. Diet and exercise regimens take time, planning, shopping, gear or travel to the gym. Better sleep can be tweaked with just a little awareness.

I’ve been reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker PhD. It’s an easy and informative guide to help understand how sleep works and why it deserves equal attention.

Like a balanced diet or an exercise routine (“interval training” for example), you need enough sleep to get the right balance; 7-9 hours for most of us. Throughout the night, while asleep, your brain produces alternating rhythms − slow wave or Non-REM sleep and fast wave or REM dreaming sleep. Walker uses a sculpting as an analogy for how these two kinds of sleep are necessary and work together. Think of your brain being a mass of clay at day’s end. During the first part of the night, the slow wave sleep (NREM) works long and hard to chip away at irrelevant data from the day, exposing a contour of the “new you” for the fast wave (REM) detail work to begin. The 2nd half of the night the master sculptor (REM) becomes more dominant; it integrates and consolidates the learning and insights (neural connections) from the previous day. By the morning both (NREM) and REM have done their jobs − Voila! You wake up ready to take on new learning and ideas.

Like an unbalanced diet or a lop-sided workout, shorting on sleep deprives you of the equalizing kind of restoration you need to be creative and productive.

Being the CEO in charge of your sleep is just one of our CoreFour strategies. Learn more about CoreFour Coaching at www.MindfulCommunication.com.

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Nap Know-How

Entrepreneurs need their sleep, but they often don’t get enough of the quality sleep needed to think straight, execute and perform. When I meet a client for the first time, I’ll ask about their sleep: Do you go to sleep at about the same time every night?  Do you fall asleep within 20 minutes or so? Stay asleep (except for the occasional bathroom break?  Wake up refreshed?  Only 2/10 will say “yes” to the last question — the most important one.  There are lots of helpful ways to get better sleep, as I will mention in future blogs. But, because it’s highly likely that you are sleep deprived right now, knowing the right kind of nap is a good business strategy.

The question often arises: What length of nap and what is the best time of the day to nap? Sleep experts tell us (and I have put myself through these nap rigors, so I can speak from experience), that the best time to take a nap is early in the day. This helps fill the sleep debt from the previous night. Naps taken after 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon may interfere in your evening sleep. The best nap is one that refreshes and restores and doesn’t take a lot of time from work. It’s the 10-20 minute nap, called “the power nap” that boosts alertness and energy.  It’s essential that you set a timer or something to keep it short. 30-60 minute naps can leave you groggy and grumpy. It can take you several minutes to get back to any kind of productive work. Interestingly, even if you don’t think you fell asleep during that short time, you probably did. But, remember, just lying down with your eyes closed and letting your body relax is more helpful than not resting at all. Give it a try and share your experience!

 

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