More On The Importance Of Sleep: Decision Making

August 7, 2013

Sleeping WomanA study has shown that a night of poor sleep impairs your high-level decision making skills. You’re less likely to resist temptations and more likely to indulge.

In the study, they found a specific desire in sleep deprived participants for higher calorie foods. While previous studies have tied poor sleep to obesity and overeating, this one demonstrates the specific mechanism.

What’s more, impaired decision making can also lead to other problems: decreased work ethic, less likely to exercise, and so forth.

This study is just another on a pile of studies demonstrating the importance of sleep. They’ve also shown a strong link between not getting enough sleep and an increased risk of cancer. Sleep doesn’t just rest and reload your brain, but it allows your whole body to recharge and rebuild.

Luckily, getting enough sleep is easy enough if you really mean it and are single-minded about it.

First, dedicate enough time to sleeping. That’s 7-9 hours. If you have a history of poor sleep quality, give yourself an extra half hour to an hour.

Next, set the stage. No light, no sound (or white noise), a mattress that’s right for your back, soft sheets, cool room, maybe a scent like lavender or warm vanilla.

Finally, commit. That means cut back on liquids two hours before bed, stop using screens (how long it takes you to unwind from them is personal), no caffeine after lunch, and exercise in the morning (it can be stimulating immediately after but will help your body be tired later).

Once you’re in bed, if your mind wanders try meditative exercises to allow yourself to drift off. For example, if you have a list of worries or to-dos, try writing it down to deal with tomorrow. If it still circles your brain, imagine each one floating off one by one. If just one thought is weighing you down, try exercises where you recite, count, or visual a very detailed picture (like a favorite work of art).

You can also support healthy sleep with natural sleep aids that include minerals and melatonin.

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