Stop Reading and Start Sleeping

by Laura Rich on January 7, 2010 in Lifestyle,Work

dreamstime 6886250 300x246Want to get back on your feet in 2010? Forget a better (or simply a) job, salary or place to live. The key to success lies in sleep, according to the Huffington Post, which is going crazy over shut-eye time. In a series of posts, the website notes that sleep improves memory, keeps you healthy, lowers your stress levels, and increases performance on the job. Arianna Huffington has even set up a “sleep challenge” for a month. But our favorite idea is an on-the-job nap program proposed by Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute. Who wouldn’t want that? Those out of work are in an even better spot to take up the challenge!

Here are some things to know about sleep, from HuffPo:

It really is a basic need like food and water, and leaves us less healthy if we skip any of them.

Sleep is actually a combination of 2 systems, your sleep drive (like hunger) and a biological clock that tells you when to sleep. When both are working well together, you sleep best. This is why a regular sleep schedule is so important. Interestingly enough, with all the sleep research out there, we still do not understand why we sleep. But we sure know what happens when we don’t: disaster. And when we do get great sleep, really good things happen (increased immune system, look better, weight loss, and increased performance). (Michael J. Brues, The Sleep Doctor)

Want to be a creative thinker? First, work on the problem and immerse yourself in it. Then, fall asleep.

Call Bill O’Reilly: The problem with America is our lack of sleep.

Poor sleep is hurting U.S. businesses. Since 2002, Families and Work Institute’s National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW) has asked employees directly about how often in the last month they have experienced sleep problems that affect their job performance. The latest data from a nationally representative sample that includes thousands of American employees find that 27 percent have experienced sleep problems that affect their job performance in the last month “at least sometimes,” and nine percnt report having sleep problems “often” or “fairly often.”

The 2008 NSCW also probes the nature of employees’ sleep problems. We find that two-thirds (66 percent) of US employees report having had trouble falling asleep at some point in the last month. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of employees report awakening too soon and having trouble going back to sleep “very often” or “fairly often,” with another 27 percent reporting “sometimes” having trouble. This means almost 60 percent of employees surveyed wake up too soon! In fact, only about one in five (21 percent) employees has never experienced awakening too soon in the last month. Women have more sleep problems than men. And not surprisingly, stress levels among have increased significantly since 2002. (Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute)

Sleep solves your problems. Literally.

Want to be a creative thinker? First, work on the problem and immerse yourself in it. Then, fall asleep. Freidrich Kekule inadvertently and famously discovered this. Kekule and his 19th century chemists wrestled with the structure of benzene until Kekule fell asleep to dream of a snake eating its own tail. He then realized that the benzene molecule was ring shaped. If sleep helps straight-laced, inorganic chemists think laterally, think what it can do for Madison Avenue copy writers! (Gayatri Devi, director of New York Memory Services)

And if you need tips on taking a nap, HuffPost Books editor Amy Hertz has figured out a fool-proof plan:

  • You don’t have to lie down. You just need to close your eyes and unplug for a few minutes.
  • Let your mind settle at the heart level, and begin to lightly notice the air from your breath passing through that area.
  • No matter how strong the urge don’t get up, don’t write anything down, don’t look at the clock. Set an alarm if you have to.
  • If you have never napped, then begin with 10 minutes three times a day, eventually working towards one 20-minute daily nap (that took me a year)
  • How to know when 20 minutes is up: I’ve figured out two ways. One is watching for the third deep involuntary breath, the other is looking for the beginning of the first dream.

Now, stop reading and get to sleep.

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