The COVID-19 pandemic is another reminder that good sleep is the foundation of good health. According to the American Sleep Association, 50 to 70 million U.S. adults experience some type of sleep loss or sleep disorder, insomnia being the most common. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has declared insufficient sleep a “public health problem.” This was BEFORE the pandemic.
As more of us are sheltering in place, it can be so tempting to fall into the trap of worry, anxiety, overeating, over-caffeinating, over-drinking, self-medicating and new habits that can set us up for a poor nights’ sleep. As an alternative, you can take the time to let go, focus on what’s in your control, and learn new habits to sleep better.
As it turns out, good sleep habits can add years to your life. Conversely, sleep deprivation has been linked to diabetes, decreased immunity obesity, and heart disease, including hypertension and heart failure. With COVID-19 affecting people with underlying conditions disproportionately compared to the rest of the population, it’s increasingly important to avoid the direct consequences of sleep deprivation.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep is essential not only for maintaining a productive effort at work but for overall wellbeing. Effects from the lack of sleep seep into every area of one’s life, from misunderstanding social cues to the inability to focus. It’s time we wake up to the dangers and consequences of widespread exhaustion and burnout.
- Memory: Memory performance is critical for organizational success, like remembering to show up to meetings on time to recalling crucial data points. On a personal level, it’s a fundamental part of what makes us who we are.
- Decision Making: Brain imaging studies have shown that sleep deprivation was associated with increased activation of brain regions related to risky decision making, which means gambling on decisions where the losses outweigh the rewards.
- Creativity: Tired minds generate fewer creative ideas and more lackluster ideas.
- Health: Negative changes in sleep patterns can lead to “high blood pressure, appetite regulation imbalances, and susceptibility to infection.”
- Mood: Skimping on sleep worsens one’s mood. In research by Professor Culpin, the most frequently reported effect of lack of sleep was “feeling irritable,” followed by “feeling more stressed,” and wanting to be “left alone.”
- Social Awareness: Sleep-deprived individuals have more difficulty reading the facial expressions of others, according to a 2014 study by Experimental Brain Research.
- Errors and Accuracy: A tired brain is prone to a drop in quality of output, making mistakes a common occurrence. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that insomnia is responsible for 274,000 workplace accidents each year.
10 Nighttime Routines for Better Sleep
Catching more “Zzz’s” can be more than just a distant dream. Want to sleep better? Here are Dr. Graham’s top 10 nighttime routines:
- Create a routine: set a regular time to go to bed and get up, and stick to it! Stay on schedule even on weekends.
- Associate your bed with sleep and intimacy only—your bed is not for catching up on work. (Yes, we know working from home makes this hard. Trust us.)
- Clear your mind of intrusive thoughts (the monkey mind) by using meditation, guided imagery, and deep breathing techniques.
- Don’t lie awake! After 20 minutes of restlessness, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you start to feel sleepy and then go back to bed.
- Put your phone down: Blue light reduces melatonin production, so limit the use of devices with LED backlit screens or dim them. Avoid looking at bright screens 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Keep it cool! Maintain a temperature between 65-68 degrees in your bedroom.
- Go nuts: Walnuts and almonds contain tryptophan and magnesium, so they are the “dream” sleep-inducing snack.
- Make a “dreamy” essential oil synergy and spray it in your bedroom and on your sheets. Some favorites for sleep are lavender, roman chamomile, and vetiver.
- Sip on some relaxing herbal teas, like chamomile and hibiscus.
- Count your blessings instead of sheep. Grateful thoughts can help you get a great night’s sleep. Try gratitude journaling prior to bed, and you may rest easier.
Try these, and you might get the sleep you’ve always dreamed of!
Sarah here with GREAT NEWS for Boys & Girls Club employees! ALL Club staff now have access to Whil, the leading digital wellbeing solution to manage stress and improve your wellbeing, relationships, sleep and more. Enjoy daily sessions and 250+ science-based mini-courses covering a wide array of wellbeing topics. I’ve been doing the Mindfulness Basic Training, and yes, there are multiple courses on sleeping better!
Whil offers both a direct website or an easy to use free app. Movement access will be provided through Spillett Leadership University at no cost. We have been partnering with Club alum Joe Burton, as well as Cornerstone on Demand, to offer Whil to Club staff.
You MUST access Whil using the directions provided in this flyer. You will need your BGCA.net login.
Thank you again to our partners at Whil!
Check back in with the ClubX Blog often for more ideas and resources on how to maintain your mental and emotional well-being during this challenging time. Stay safe. Wash your hands. Take care of yourself. We are in this together!
Get the latest updates from BGCA at BGCA.net/Coronavirus, find programming ideas at MyFuture.net, like the BGCA Youth Development on Facebook for YD updates including video from Sarah, and join the brand new BGCA Youth Development Community also on Facebook to connect with other Club staff on programming through coronavirus.