The first thing you notice when you work with people under a lot of stress is how often they say, “I’m tired.” For some, the stress of the day is what wears them out. But for most people, it’s a matter of not getting enough sleep. And they are hardly alone.
The fact is, most people don’t get enough quality sleep. Unfortunately, when you’re tired, your emotional threshold is lowered. You’re more vulnerable to all the other stresses around you. Stress breeds even more stress. Breaking the cycle and getting a good night’s sleep becomes very important.
The secret to getting a good night’s sleep is figuring out your sleep needs and what strategies work best for you. You need to experiment. Something that works for one person may not work for you. What follows are a number of techniques, ideas, and strategies that have been shown to be effective in helping people get a better night of sleep. Consider them all and put together your own personal sleep program.
Your first step is knowing just how much sleep you need. Most Americans get between 60 and 90 minutes less a night than they should for optimal health and performance. Though most people need about seven or eight hours of sleep a night, 20 percent of Americans get less than six hours of sleep, and 50 percent get less than eight hours. And it doesn’t look like the situation is going to improve anytime soon.
No fixed rule can tell you how much sleep you need. So take the following simple sleep quiz to see whether you’re getting enough sleep at night. Answer true or false, depending on whether the following statements apply to you.
I notice a major dip in my energy level early in the afternoon.
I need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning.
On the weekends, when I don’t have to get up, I end up sleeping much later.
I fall asleep very quickly at night (in less than 15 minutes).
On most days, I feel tired and feel as though I could use a nap.
Answering “that’s me” to any of the above suggests that you may want to re-evaluate how much sleep you’re getting and how much sleep you truly need. Try experimenting by getting a bit more sleep at night and see if you notice any changes in your stress level.