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How many hours of sleep do you need to be at your best?

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Most of us have been told since a very young age that we need to get a proper night’s sleep. No matter how much better we feel after following that advice many of us rarely achieve it.

Putting the work in that others are not willing to do is one of the reasons successful people are successful. Many sacrifice sleep to give them the ability to dedicate more waking hours to their craft.

Are those extra hours you gain by sleeping less as productive as they need to be? Research has shown that being awake for 17-19 hours that performance slips to a level that equates to someone who has a blood alcohol level of .05.

In an interview with Thrive Global Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, states that eight hours of sleep is what he needs to be at his best, “”Eight hours of sleep makes a big difference for me, and I try hard to make that a priority,” says Bezos.” For me, that’s the needed amount to feel energized and excited.”

“Making a small number of key decisions well is more important than making a large number of decisions. If you short-change your sleep, you might get a couple of extra ‘productive’ hours, but that productivity might be an illusion.”

“When you’re talking about decisions and interactions, quality is usually more important than quantity.”

A lack of sleep also effects wellness in several different ways such as gaining weight, lowering mood and even affecting mortality.

Even when people make sleep a priority it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. The American Sleep Association states that 30% of people report short-term insomnia while 10% chronic insomnia.

In his book The Ripple Effect Greg Wells, PH. D. writes about how sleep, nutrition, movement and cognitive activity all interact to affect an individual’s wellness.

Throughout the book Dr. Wells offers several small changes that enhance wellness calling them ‘Dr. Greg’s 1% Tips’. One of those is using progressive relaxation to fall asleep with greater ease.

“Progressive relaxation will develop your ability to recognize and relieve tension. Muscle tension consumes energy inefficiently and decreases circulation, which results in a build-up of toxins and tension that causes physical aches and pains. Practising relaxation techniques for five minutes three times a week for three weeks in a row, can have significant benefits. Positive effects such as improved digestion, improved function of the cardiovascular system, relief from aches and pains, and improved sleep have been reported.”

A simple progressive relaxation process from WebMD is outlined below.

Getting a proper night’s sleep is an extremely important component of improving your wellness and increasing your productivity. By following some of the suggestions Dr. Wells outlines in his book will help you find out what you’ve been missing.

Progressive Relaxation Process

Choose a place where you won’t be interrupted and where you can lie down on your back and stretch out comfortably, such as a carpeted floor.

  1. Breathe in, and tense the first muscle group (hard but not to the point of pain or cramping) for 4 to 10 seconds.
  2. Breathe out, and suddenly and completely relax the muscle group (do not relax it gradually).
  3. Relax for 10 to 20 seconds before you work on the next muscle group. Notice the difference between how the muscles feel when they are tense and how they feel when they are relaxed.
  4. When you are finished with all of the muscle groups, count backward from 5 to 1 to bring your focus back to the present.

 

Muscle group What to do
Hands Clench them.
Wrists and forearms Extend them, and bend your hands back at the wrist.
Biceps and upper arms Clench your hands into fists, bend your arms at the elbows, and flex your biceps.
Shoulders Shrug them (raise toward your ears).
Forehead Wrinkle it into a deep frown.
Around the eyes and bridge of the nose Close your eyes as tightly as you can. (Remove contact lenses before you start the exercise.)
Cheeks and jaws Smile as widely as you can.
Around the mouth Press your lips together tightly. (Check your face for tension. You just want to use your lips.)
Back of the neck Press the back of your head against the floor or chair.
Front of the neck Touch your chin to your chest. (Try not to create tension in your neck and head.)
Chest Take a deep breath, and hold it for 4 to 10 seconds.
Back Arch your back up and away from the floor or chair.
Stomach Suck it into a tight knot. (Check your chest and stomach for tension.)
Hips and buttocks Press your buttocks together tightly.
Thighs Clench them hard.
Lower legs Point your toes toward your face. Then point your toes away, and curl them downward at the same time. (Check the area from your waist down for tension.)