Sleep is the first sacrament

The importance of a good night’s sleep really cannot be overstated. Nothing in your life will fall into place if you’re not well-rested. Think you can resist junk-food cravings when you’re sleep-deprived and cranky? Think again. Think you can be clever, witty, and charming if you’re exhausted? Not a chance.

“Beauty sleep” is not just for women. A study published by the British Medical Journal found that “sleep-deprived people appear less healthy, less attractive, and more tired compared with when they are well-rested”. (http://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c6614.full.pdf#page=1&view=FitH)

And you’re less likely to make good decisions if you’re sleep-deprived. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that sleep-deprived people were more likely to make risky decisions. (http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/10/3712.full.pdf#page=1&view=FitH)

So, knowing the importance of a good night’s sleep, how can we get it?

  1. Make it your number one priority. Realize that nothing else in your life is going to work correctly if you’re not well-rested. You are the means of production. Take care of your machine.
  2. Make it a habit. Go to bed at a consistent time every night.
  3. Make your environment conducive to restfulness. About an hour before I go to bed, I turn down all the lights in my house. It helps if you have dimmer switches, but if you don’t, just turn off the bright, overhead lights, and switch on a couple of soft lamps. This won’t do you much good if you go into the bathroom right before bed and get hit with a bright light, so put a soft light in there too. I also have an orange light bulb in the bedroom for when I want to read in bed, because I find that reading is a great way to fall asleep.
  4. Make yourself go to sleep. Ideally, you would lie in bed in the dark and just think about nothing until you pass out, but it’s really hard to just lie still and do nothing because we’re all so overstimulated these days, so here are some compromises:
    • Lie in the dark and listen to classical music or an audiobook. Nothing to exciting or stimulating
    • Read with a soft light. I’ve got an orange light bulb in my bedroom because it blocks the blue spectrum of light, which has been found to improve sleep (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071112143308.htm)
    • If you absolutely must be on the computer within an hour before your bedtime, download F.lux (http://stereopsis.com/flux/), which reduces, but does not block, the blue light coming from your monitor. It’s available for Linux, Mac, and Windows, and it’s free.

     

Sleep well and prosper.

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