Time Ideas ran an online article Oct. 28 titled “How You Can Function on Less Than Six Hours of Sleep.” I saw my life summed up in one headline: as someone who overschedules herself, with me, sleep always loses out.
The article wasn’t helpful to me, and I’m not sure to whom it would be helpful. It was a contribution piece from the founder of a bakery that was originally posted on website Quora as an answer to a question about how CEOs function on four to five hours a night.
The contributor explained how she cut out carbs from her diet, limits the amount of television she watches and sticks to a strict sleep schedule, among other things. The first two don’t jump out as the solution to running on minimal sleep, but then again I’m not sure it’s possible to function on less than six hours of sleep each night, regardless of your profession.
Sleep is necessary. We need time for our body to recharge, and if we’re not properly doing so, we’re physically hurting ourselves. Everyone is different; therefore not everyone needs the same amount of sleep.
To me, the most important thing people can do is listen to their body. I know the physical signs my body sends me when I’ve overworked myself and need to take a break: my chest tightens, my heart beat is strong and fast even when I’m not actively moving and if I am active, I feel like my legs are going to give out any minute.
Odds are, if you don’t feel right, your body is trying to tell you something, so listen up and act accordingly.
There are a lot of resources available to inform us how to get the best sleep and maintain a healthy lifestyle, like the National Sleep Foundation.
A few sleeping tips are related to bedtime routine and sleeping environment.
Having a routine before you go to sleep will help your body adjust into sleep mode. Take the time before you go to sleep as some time to focus on simple tasks, such as reading, journaling or doing easy puzzles — whatever relaxes you.
It’s important to avoid bright lights, highly stimulating activity and eating large portions of food before going to sleep, as this could throw your body off and not permit you to fall into a deep sleep or cause you to wake up throughout the night.
And yes, bright lights include electronic devices, like your smartphone, even if the brightness is turned all the way down. (Your Tinder match can wait until the morning.)
You should also allow yourself the best sleeping environment possible. For most people, this means no light or noise whatsoever. But for some people that’s not the case. Some people need background noise or like to fall asleep with the television on. Find what works best for you.
If you’re not able to give yourself the necessary amount of time needed to sleep, take a step back and evaluate your schedule. Cut back on some of the lesser priorities in your life and readjust so you can get the amount of sleep you need.
Julia Casciato is the Op-Ed Editor of The Triangle. She can be contacted at [email protected].