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Sleep – a powerful performance tool

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Most of us in the business and corporate world are focused on being successful. It seems that in order to be successful, we are always required to be ‘on duty’.

With modern technology, we’re permanently connected to the universe with those clever apps bombarding us with notifications from email, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. It never stops, unless we choose to create boundaries for ourselves.

In order to be successful and out there changing the world, we have to be healthy. Being healthy requires making nourishing choices and getting the rest we need.

Sleep is fundamental to health, and it’s certainly not a luxury. Unless you were born amongst the 3% with a particular DNA that gives you the stamina to survive on only four hours sleep per night, you need at least 6- 8 hours. It’s not one size fits all, some people do need more sleep than others to be at their best.

During deep sleep (non REM sleep), your body is being nourished and renewed, and during dream sleep (REM sleep), your brain is processing the day.  If you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system will be compromised and you will not be able to focus. Over time, you’ll start becoming ill.

If lack of sleep is affecting you, there are a number of things you can do without resorting to drugs. Drugs will mask the problem for a short term gain. The cause of the insomnia will continue to manifest into some other disease that will ultimately affect, if not ruin your career.

Tips on how to sleep better

1.    Start your day from a quiet place.  Most people these days have their phones by their bed and as soon as they open their eyes, they’re checking emails in bed. If you can cut this habit, you’ll certainly have a clearer head. Instead, start your day with 5 minutes just meditating on the breath and do some gentle yoga stretches. Make a rule not to get on the internet until at least 30 minutes after you’ve woken up.

2.    Eat a healthy breakfast that does not involve coffee and sugar. Choose fresh juices and some light protein that’s not going to weigh you down during the morning.

3.    Take a break at lunch time and get away from your computer, even if it’s only 30 mins.

4.    Poor posture will affect the nervous and digestion systems. Stretch and allow yourself the time to eat your food without being in front of the computer.

5.    Turn technology off at least 2 hours before you go to bed. Try turning your phone on aircraft mode so you get a sense of being ‘off duty’ to the outside world.

6.    Do some gentle yoga, breathing or meditation before bedtime. Your brain waves go from Beta (daytime) to Alpha (relaxed), to Theta (dream, sleep) and Delta (deep sleep).  If you are still actively thinking about work, answering emails etc. before bedtime, your brain will not slow down and allow you to sleep.

7.    Eat light in the evening and avoid alcohol where possible. Alcohol affects the quality of your sleep. You’ll find yourself waking up in the early hours and not being able to get back to sleep.

8.    Remove TV’s and gadgets out of the bedroom and make it a technology free zone. Instead create a clear space so that the moment you walk into your bedroom, you leave the day at the door.

Be careful not to ignore the signs that could lead to insomnia. If you notice you’re experiencing anxiousness, nervousness, irritation and lack of patience, they are all signs that you need more space and rest.

Alison Francis

By Alison Francis

Alison is a sleep guru. Anandi is Alison Francis’s spiritual name given to her by her guru in India in 2007.

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