Tuesday, March 11, 2014
A poll cited in Spirituality and Health magazine asked Americans to choose among the following activities if they had more time in a day: sleep, rest and relax, work, socialize or play. Now what activity would you choose?
If you responded like the majority of those asked, you'd head for bed. That's not surprising, given that over 60% of us are sleep deprived. Americans, overall, are sleeping one hour less per night than our parent's generation.
Many factors contribute to our inability to get enough zzz's—the availability of the internet has made work a 24/7 proposition and our attachment to the accumulation of "things" has kept most of us working to support our habit. Economist, Juliet Schor, wrote about this increasing phenomenon in her book, The Overspent American.
So, what is the impact of our lack of sleep? To quote Professor of Medicine, Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago, "Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body". Lack of sleep has been linked at one extreme to driving accidents and fatalities to an inability to focus or develop clarity in solving any number of life's problems.
Everyone needs a certain number of hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. That number varies per individual, but the articles I've read indicate that the magic figure is between 7 and 9—or perhaps gauged by whatever time you would normally awake without an alarm clock. Erroneously, many Americans believe that if they can "make up" the lack of sleep in any given day or week, all will be fine.
But, that is not the case. Research shows that if you don't get the hours of sleep you need, you begin to create a "sleep debt". Lost sleep accumulates and you grow a larger sleep indebtedness that does not just go away with a good night's sleep. You can only reduce your sleep debt by sleeping over and above what you normally need.
Perhaps a way to sleep well at night is to slow down during the day, rather than expect your body to immediately doze off once you come to a screeching halt at bedtime. For more tips on improving your sleep, read the Huffington Post article: “How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep”.
Barbara Babkirk is a Master Career Counselor and founder of Heart At Work Associates, a career counseling and outplacement firm in Portland.
With a focused and intuitive approach, Barbara makes a difference in people’s lives by helping them design a new life chapter. She has a successful record guiding career transitions for professionals ranging from executives and artists to attorneys and entrepreneurs.
An expert in her field, Barbara is a public speaker on work-related topics writes a solutions-oriented column about work for the Portland Sunday Telegram.
Scott Woodard is a career coach with Heart At Work Associates, a career counseling and outplacement business in Portland, Maine.
Scott works with clients to identify and articulate their value and their personal brand. He helps clients develop clear, concise and crisp messaging to convey their particular difference, their achievements and their approach.
Scott coaches clients to market their brand through social media platforms, especially LinkedIn. He offers monthly workshops on how to make the most of LinkedIn for businesses or job seekers.