Everyone knows that sleep is an important factor to good health. But are you getting the quality and quantity of sleep you need? Just being in bed for 8 hours without resting is not quality sleep. Many people adjust their sleep patterns in order to accommodate their work schedule, vacation schedule, children’s schedules, etc. But are you getting to sleep at the time your body needs it?
The Journal Sleep published a study on the relationship between timing and duration of sleep. What this study concludes is that people who delayed their work hours or were more flexible in the times that they worked actually increased the amount and quality of their sleep. The issue of having disrupted sleep increases the likelihood of mistakes that can lead to serious outcomes, such as driving miscalculations resulting in accidents. Sleep, like nutrition, is biochemically distinct for each person.
There are obvious variables that factor into the need and quality for sleep. We have unique family situations, financial obligations that may force us to work extra hours or multiple jobs and schedules that aren’t adapted to your individual sleep needs. We make tradeoffs for the time when we should sleep; it might be working later, travel arrangements that coincide with our normal sleep pattern or just watching television as a form of relaxation when sleep is actually needed.
The conclusions of the sleep study included recommendations to increase our awareness of times that is needed for sleep. Adjusting your work or school schedule to start later may help provide the sleep time your body needs. Reducing the amount of activities that limit your available sleep time will bring you better quality health and better sleep.
Do you see yourself replacing sleep time with activities that could be better left for another occasion?
- Housework, cleaning, maintenance, repair
- Internet use, online shopping
- Homework, research
- Eating and/or drinking
- Socializing, entertainment
- Telephone calls, texting
All of these things can be more effectively done during the waking portion of the day and not when your brain and body are winding down and preparing to rest and rejuvenate. You may need to schedule your sleep just as you schedule other important events in your day. And don’t be late!