By Samantha McKenzie
My co-workers and I just wrapped up a seven-day work week, jam packed with late nights and early morning shifts. For students, alumni and the community, the homecoming festivities were filled with fantastic opportunities to create memories and reminisce on the good ole days.
It was also exhausting. Returning to work on Monday was quite the chore. After dragging myself into the office, I noticed the wear and tear on our bodies. The sunny faces and energetic personalities that used to greet me at the door were replaced with sluggish hellos and disjointed conversations.
We were all way beyond tired and one hiccup away from exhaustion. It was time to get some sleep.
I listen daily to my friends run through their long list of work tasks. The chores never seem to end. I swear the two loads of laundry sitting over there in the corner right now are staring at me.
Lack of sleep has slowly crept to the top of the list of health concerns. Chronic sleep deprivation is said to cause short term damage to the body, and long term health problems that include depression, high blood pressure, diabetes (type 2), weight gain, stroke and heart disease.
Ironically, while we are keeping late hours, packing in our day with stuff to do and trying to get things done so we can live a better life, we are inadvertently hurting ourselves. Not getting enough sleep actually shortens the life span.
A poor night’s sleep also contributes to fatigue, irritability and lack of focus. We are not at our best when we’re tired. I know this for a fact: I’m a certified grouch when I’m sleepy.
Good news is that it’s an easy fix. So to speak. Getting more sleep starts with creating a bedtime regimen. Yes, it’s that simple. Just go to bed earlier.
Set a new time to sleep. Turn off the lights and all of the distractions. How many hours of sleep you truly need depends on you. Most adults need at least six hours. Just pick a number that’s best for you and stick with it.
And there’s more. If health problems don’t frighten you, maybe a few positives will help you turn in early. A good night’s rest increases your sex drive, helps keep your skin smooth and supple, boosts your immune system and helps you stay slim.
So go ahead. Set your new sleep goals. Go to bed at the same time every night. Take longer naps on the weekends. Lay in the bed, turn your brain off, and just exhale.
Good night and sweet dreams.