We’re in the midst of an unprecedented shift in our lives. With the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been more important to keep ourselves fit and healthy, both for our own safety and for the safety of everyone around us. So many fitness instructors and yoga teachers are taking to instagram to share home workouts. Chefs and nutritionists are giving tips on how to stock your kitchen and cook for yourselves and your family. This is fantastic and so helpful, but we wanted to remind you of the most important thing we can all do right now:
Most of us (except for the amazing healthcare professionals working so hard to save lives) have much more time right now. Without school runs and commutes, without social engagements, we all have the time to hit the reset button on our sleeping habits.
So many of us fall into the false belief that sleeping is for lazy or weak people. It’s a damaging belief and one we encourage you to ditch.
70% of adults in the UK are not reaching their biological sleep need, meaning they are not feeling refreshed in the morning after a night’s sleep. This rising trend of people actively choosing to get less sleep through their lifestyle habits is a huge problem, not just in the face of a pandemic (though it is), but in every aspect of our wellbeing.
Here’s a quick recap of what sleep deprivation does to us:
It reduces our cognitive function. We move into our more primitive brain function, meaning we make more irrational decisions and lose focus and creativity.
Our blood glucose regulation goes haywire, meaning if we’re really sleep deprived we can move into a pre-diabetic state.
Our muscles can’t recover and grow after exercise.
We can’t emotionally process the events of the day or commit things to long term memory.
Inflammation and stress in the body increases, meaning our immunity is compromised.
Our mental health is negatively affected, sometimes leading to anxiety and depression.
We interpret tone of voice and facial expressions more negatively, meaning our interpersonal interactions and relationships take a hit.
Our body can’t properly detoxify.
Not so cool, right?
* Sidebar: we realise that parents cannot control the amount of sleep they get. If you’re a parent just do your best and make up for lost sleep where possible.
So while we’re all on a strange hiatus from regular life, maybe it’s time to experiment with how good it feels to properly sleep. Most of us need 7-8 hours a night. A few outliers need much less or much more. Figure out how much you need to wake up feeling refreshed (without having a cup of coffee first thing) and then make it a priority to get that amount.
We’re all experiencing that life can go on without so much planned all the time, maybe it’s a chance to reevaluate your priorities going forward. Sleep shouldn’t regularly be the compromised factor, so how can you build your time around taking care of your body and your brain in this essential way?
The irony is, so many of us will claim that our jobs are too long and busy to make time for sleep, when one of the reasons that we’re having to work such long hours and are stressed while doing so is that many of us are chronically sleep deprived, meaning everything is more difficult and takes longer.
So our challenge to you, is to take the chance to break old patterns, starting with sleep.
We’re willing to bet that once you discover how great you can feel when you’re properly rested, you won’t be so willing to give it up when things go back to normal.
Well & Truly are offering pro bono Feel Well, Work Well – Home Edition calls for teams working from home. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book in a slot.