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The Covid-19 pandemic has caused work and life as we know it to change drastically, boosting record levels of fatigue and insomnia. According to research findings from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, more than half of respondents reported sleep problems since the onset of the pandemic. Research from Deloitte found that 77 percent of people have experienced burns in their current job – and the correlation is not random.
Sleep affects every part of the body, including our brain. According to the Sleep Foundation, without quality sleep, “neurons in the brain become overloaded, impairing thinking, slowing down physical reactions and leaving people feeling emotionally tired.” And, unfortunately, chronic poor sleep can lead to feelings of stress and fatigue, feelings that can make productivity a significant challenge – it is a vicious cycle that has massive consequences. In fact, U.S. companies will lose $ 60 billion due to productivity losses and job-related fatigue related to poor sleep.
So as business leaders and entrepreneurs, how do we start to get the best sleep of our lives? Thoroughly rethink the way we approach sleep.
1. Develop a personalized approach to sleep.
Sleep is as unique to a person as fingerprints; no two experiences are the same.
The modern wellness industry has already encouraged consumers to look forward to personalized experiences, and the power of personalized care extends to vitamins, hair care and skin care, for good reason: Personalized solutions fit your lifestyle and work with your body to support where you need it most. With However, many still turn to mass-produced formulas and approaches for all, for all, not counting the unique sleep experience and needs. A solution will not work for everyone, nor will a solution that works for someone now work forever.
As humans, we are dynamic, ever-increasing and changing. This is what makes life fun. But this is also what makes it unreasonable to expect a general solution to solve an inherent personal problem. For example, I am the CEO and mother of four, so my sleep needs are very different from the other person. One might assume that my husband and I have similar sleep needs as we have similar schedules in terms of work and childcare – but this is not true at all. He has more trouble sleeping, while I need a better quality sleep in order to wake up feeling energized in the morning.
When making changes to your sleeping environment and routine, you need to determine which of these is the issue you want to address: Do you feel hot or cold when you sleep? Do you have trouble staying asleep? Do you wake up feeling tired? Do you have back pain that prevents you from sleeping well? Based on self-assessment, you can identify areas in your missing sleep routine that can help you better understand how to support your sleep goals.
2. Consider and Explore Natural Ingredients
Sleep plays a crucial role in the body healing process, but most of the sleep aids you see on the market may not support your body in a natural, restorative break that it really needs for optimal health. Many widely used options to support sleep rely on sedatives, which cause sedation instead of organic sleep. As a result, the body may not experience deep cycles or REM for the time needed to experience restorative sleep, where healing and rejuvenation take place. These medications also come with potential, long-term consequences, including addictions, and can potentially be associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
There are many natural ingredients that work synergistically with your body to facilitate natural sleep processes over time. For example, there is a whole biological system in our body called the endocannabinoid system that is responsible for regulating certain physiological processes, ranging from appetite and metabolism to regulating stress and maintaining sleep-wake cycles. The system produces “endogenous cannabinoids” similar to the cannabinoids found in cannabis to initiate these processes. So when the body ingests cannabinoids like CBD, cellular receptors interact with it in a similar way as endogenous cannabinoids to promote sleep and promote arousal. And this is just one ingredient.
Other herbal supplements like magnesium, valerian, melatonin, L-theanine and jujube have all been found to aid in natural sleep in a variety of ways. Plus, natural ingredients like adaptogens have been found to be beneficial for sleep, which can also have the power to boost your energy for the next day. (However, they are all unique, with their own needs; I recommend that you consult your doctor before returning to natural ingredients.)
3. Build a better bedtime routine
The past year and a half has not been conducive to quality sleep — social distancing, school closures, quarantines, and work orders from home have all brought profound changes to normal routines, in turn disrupting our sleep patterns. Your mind and body adapt more easily to a consistent sleep schedule, making it more important than ever to build a better sleep routine.
Brushing your face and brushing your teeth can be given, but try exploring a few different tactics: Consider taking a warm shower or bath before bed to promote melatonin production; dim the lights and take a few breaths to lower stress levels; consider asking your doctor about natural supplements to encourage relaxation and support deeper sleep. The key is to set up your bedtime routine and set yourself up for the best sleep of your life. Maybe even consider a sleep trainer to determine the best going and waking routine for you.
Given the essential nature of sleep for our health and our ability to lead our teams, we need to approach sleep holistically, as we do with other areas of our health. We take probiotics to help our digestion, or amino acids to improve our workouts even if we are not necessarily struggling with digestion or energy levels. We do it to enhance and optimize the quality of these daily rhythms – so why do we sleep differently?
Why settle for anything other than great sleep? We deserve better, and we can do better.
The information provided here is not medical advice. You should consult a licensed professional for advice regarding your specific situation.