Make Sleep Your Best Friend
Welcome to Lesson 9 of your course. I hope you slept well last night, because today, we will learn about the importance of sleep and what the right quantum and methods are for a proper sleep.
How Sleep Impacts Your Focus
You might have experienced that if you wake up without getting adequate sleep, you feel as though your mind is scattered across different portions of your brain—a feeling of restlessness. Compare this feeling to a day when you wake up fully rested. Your mind is not fragmented, and there’s a feeling of centeredness.
You can easily tell how after fully rested sleep, the mind can focus on things much better. The same way our bodies need food for energy and water for keeping ourselves hydrated, a healthy mind requires proper quantity and quality of sleep to function better. Sleep is like food and water for a healthy mind.
That said, we unfortunately don’t pay as much urgent attention to the need of sleep by our minds as we do for giving food and water to our body. Despite feeling sleepy, we keep ourselves glued to our cell phones until midnight. Studies have demonstrated that the cognitive capacity of the mind is badly impacted due to sleep deprivation, even resulting in loss of memory. A sleep-deprived mind often gets into a state of hallucination and impairs rational decision-making.
So, don’t underestimate the importance of sleep in your journey toward building focus. Now the key question comes: What is the right amount of sleep you need?
Determining Your Sleep Needs
Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. To determine how much sleep you need, it’s important to do the following:
1. Assess where you fall on the “sleep needs spectrum.”
2. Examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep, such as work schedules and stress.
With respect to the sleep needs spectrum, many studies show that at different ages, the range of necessary sleep varies. For example, the National Sleep Foundation came out with the below results in its study. The study panel agreed that for healthy individuals with normal sleep, the appropriate sleep duration should be as follows:
• for newborns, between 14 and 17 hours
• for infants, between twelve and 15 hours
• for toddlers, between eleven and 14 hours
• for preschoolers, between ten and 13 hours
• for school-aged children, between nine and eleven hours
• for teenagers, between eight to ten hours
• for young adults and adults, seven to nine hours
• for older adults, seven to eight hours of sleep
In addition to the above, as life keeps coming at us with different sets of challenges, different lifestyle factors have to be considered. For example, there are times when you have personal family issues or have to work overtime. If this happens, you should give yourself extra sleep time of, say, one to two hours to recover and rejuvenate your body and mind.
But while paying attention to the quantity of sleep, you shouldn’t forget about its quality.
How to Get High-Quality Sleep
Deepak Chopra, the author of the bestselling book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, suggests a few great tips for getting a restful night’s sleep:
• Eat only a light meal in the evening, before 7:30 if possible.
• Go for a leisurely walk after dinner.
• Be in bed by 10 p.m.
• Download your thoughts from the day in a journal before going to bed so your mind doesn’t keep you awake.
I hope you will sleep adequately today. Tomorrow, we will talk about how moving your body can change your brain structure and enhance your focus.
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