Sleep; the good habit

This week I arrived home from a trip abroad that involved a six hour time change, a ten and a half hour flight, and over twenty-four hours of being awake.  The time away from work gave me good reason to reflect and keep my hands off the Blackberry (I left it at home).  But as the hours drew closer for our arrival home I started getting the all-to-familiar itch to know what was happening in the office and dive back into the exciting projects that were being shaped in my absence. So charged was I to get back into the groove of things that I neglected to do one truly fundamental thing, sleep. You would figure that after 30 hours of traveling it would make sense to hit the hay for a day, take it easy and recover from my jetlag.  Problem is – that’s just not in my DNA.  I mistakenly went to work that evening and the following day, telling myself I would just stay for a few hours, I would be home by lunch I said.  Unsurprisingly I did not leave until well after my usual quitting time; not an uncommon thing for me but in this instance it was even more evident that I was running low on energy.  I found myself wanting to work on everything because there was so much to do! I’m certainly not the only one that can fall into this trap.  According to the American National Sleep Foundation, “47 million adults may be putting themselves at risk for injury, health and behavior problems because they aren’t meeting their minimum sleep need in order to be fully alert the next day.” An extensive report developed by Michael H. Bonnet Ph.D. and Donna L. Arand Ph.D. of Wright State University and Kettering Medical Center, also found on the National Sleep Foundation website, called: How Much Sleep Do Adults Need? The article discusses the importance of our sleep function, the outcome of sleep restriction, differences in our sleeping patterns and the heath implications associated with too much or too little sleep. Donnet and Arand summarized that, “there are significant mood, performance, health, and mortality consequences associated with sleep restriction, and these consequences increase as sleep restriction becomes chronic.” Furthermore the report supports what we already know, “that deprivation of sleep makes us sleepy and results in poor performance while sufficient sleep improves our alertness, mood, and performance.” The question that I have for myself now, which may be more interesting, is why was I compelled to reenter the office environment when I knew I was running on empty?  It is worth noting that the aforementioned study also states that, “external environmental or social factors, such as the need to work more than one job of longer work shifts” for a prolonged time changes our sleeping habits.  It stands to reason that my ingrained work habits drove me to go against my instinctual need for sleep. It all comes down to habit. People often say that they simply require more discipline; I counter that with we are 100% disciplined to our existing set of habits.  Change the habit, change the result, get more sleep. | Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS | The Ontarian, Writer, Editor

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