Your Weekly Challenge: You Need A Good Night’s Sleep

Making sure we are getting ample rest is one of the single-most important factors in maintaining a positive attitude and lower-stress which in turn increases our ability to challenge life,  care for our selves, and care for others. With today’s hectic pace  many of us aren’t refueling with adequate sleep or quality sleep.

Lack of sleep or lack of quality sleep is not something to take  lightly. When we are tired we lose our ability to operate at our  best which can quickly damage relationships, self-esteem, and job  performance.

Are you getting enough sleep?

Answer these questions based on the last 7 days:

– Do you sleep through your alarm clock (once or more a week)
– Do you use the snooze button to sneak some extra sleep?
– Do you sleep in on weekends or days off?
– Do you wake up feeling non-refreshed?
– Do you find that you are irritable during the day (especially in the afternoon)?
– Do co-workers or family members often ask what is bothering you (they can’t identify an obvious source)?
– Do you have difficulty focusing on a task for over an hour and completing it accurately?
– Do you find yourself making “little” or “silly” mistakes?
– (Mistakes that could have been easily avoided by paying attention to detail.)
– Does the amount of sleep you get each night vary by more than an hour? (Example: 6 hours Monday, 5 hours Tuesday, 8 hours Saturday)
– Would you describe yourself as moody or would your co-workers or family?

Someone who is getting adequate sleep will usually answer less than 2 yes responses. If you marked between 3 and 5, lack of sleep or lack of quality sleep is likely having a negative impact on your life. If you marked 6 or more, lack of sleep or lack of quality sleep cannot be ignored any longer. Not only is it bad for your health and stress level, it is also a risk for hurting your overall performance and relationships.

Notes: If you scored 5 or more, you may want to re-take this quiz each week to monitor your improvement. Also, scores can vary week to week depending on hormones. We shouldn’t seek continual perfect weeks, but we want to make sure that more often than not we are getting our zzzz’s. Aim to be marking 3 or less yes responses 3 out of every 4 weeks.

How much sleep do I need?
That answer varies greatly person-to-person. The best way to uncover your personal sleep quota is to use the above quiz as a guideline. Experiment with different hours of sleep each week. When you find your scores are low, you are likely in the right range for  you. However, prior to monitoring your nightly zzzz’s to determine your optimum level, make sure you have followed the suggestions that follow. By following these suggestions you can avoid having to “oversleep” to compensate for poor habits. As a general rule, 8  hours of sleep should be plenty for a healthy adult.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep:
Choose a schedule and stick to it. Choose a time to go to sleep and a time to get up. Maintain this daily, including days where you have the privilege of sleeping in. Sleeping in just 1-2 days a week can throw off your sleep schedule for the entire week. If you lay  down and aren’t sleepy, don’t get out of bed. Read a book or listen to music to relax.

Avoid caffeine: Cut off caffeine (even if you think it doesn’t affect you) at least 6 hours before going to sleep.

Smokers: If you smoke, avoid smoking an hour before going to bed. Smoking can cause restless sleeping.

Health Watch: Our need for sleep is tied to body weight – the more we weigh, the more sleep we need. Snoring, which interferes with solid sleep, can also often be reduced through weight loss and physical activity. Excess weight doesn’t just affect us during the  day, but at night as well. Consider beginning a health regimen to increase energy and improve sleep.

Worried? If your mind is filled with worries, write them out in a journal before going to bed.

Create a Relaxing Routine: A bath or shower before bed, reading a book, listening to calming music or doing some stretching can all help slow down the body and mind for more restfull sleep.

Avoid late night snacking: After dinner, minimize any snacking to very simple and easy-to-digest snacks. If a body is working to digest a lot of food it can hamper the sleep process. Avoid snacks with additives or artificial sweeteners and avoid protein.

Prepare at night: Prepare as much as you can for the day ahead. Set out clothes. Plan you day. Advance preparation helps people relax so they can sleep better.

Activity matters: As our activity increases through this program to 5 days-a-week of 30 minutes activity, you should find your sleep quality improves. Try to avoid exercising right before bed as exercising creates endorphins and energy that will make it hard to

Make a sleep-friendly environment: Make the room as dark as possible–use an eye mask if necessary. Use ear plugs to block out sound or use a fan or soft-constant music to mask sounds that can disturb sleep. Turn your clock so you cannot see the time.

But I don’t have enough time to sleep!  If you don’t get ample sleep and score high then you are going to have a lot of extra pressure and problems to deal with. Instead of  spending hours of dealing with stress, why not just use those hours to get the sleep your body needs? When you sacrifice sleep, remember that you aren’t only affecting you–but all of those who interact with you! Need more help on sleep? Check out the National Sleep Foundation at

Your Weekly Challenge: How did you score on the sleep test? Based on your answers, what are two changes you can make this week to improve the quality of your sleep?

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