BY JAMES B MAAS
Treating sleep as a necessity rather than a luxury is the secret to being a peak performer. When you don't get proper sleep, you experience increased stress, feelings of lethargy, weight gain, reduced immunity and lowered productivity and memory. How do you know if you are getting proper sleep? Answer the following questions:
* Do I need an alarm clock to wake up at the right time?
* Do I often fall asleep in meetings, after heavy meals or when watching TV?
* Do I often sleep extra hours on weekend mornings?
* Do I feel tired during the day? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it's likely you need more sleep.
THE GOLDEN RULES OF SLEEP
1. Get proper sleep
Identify the amount of sleep you need to be fully alert all day and get that amount every night. For most adults, it's eight hours. For teenagers, it's nine.
2. Establish a regular sleep schedule
Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning - including weekends.
3. Get continuous sleep
For sleep to be rejuvenating, you should get your required amount of sleep in one continuous block. Any nicotine or caffeine after 2pm or alcohol within three hours of bedtime will disrupt your sleep.
4. Make up for lost sleep
For every two hours awake, you add one hour of debt to your sleep debt account. It takes eight hours of sleep to restore 16 hours of waking activity. You cannot make up for large sleep losses during the week by sleeping in at the weekend. Try taking a 20-minute power nap at midday.
1. Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool
Sleep on a mattress with individual pocketed coils that reduce motion transfer, or a foam mattress designed to support your back properly.
2. Reduce stress
Even if you are sleep-deprived, anxiety can delay sleep onset. Try relaxation exercises. Write down your concerns before you go to bed - your worries then won't interfere with your sleep. Don't watch TV within two hours of bedtime. Take a warm bath before bed. Reading for pleasure before turning off the lights will ease you into sleep.
James B Maas, PhD, is a Stephen H Weiss Presidential Fellow, Professor and past Chairman of Psychology at Cornell University. He is the recipient of the American Psychological Association's Outstanding Educator Award and the author of Power Sleep.
What are some things that you have done to make sure you are able to get that good nights sleep?