According to a recent study, 40% of us aren’t getting enough sleep. While this may not come as a surprise on its own, it’s the ripple effect of this sleep deprivation that’s really floored us.
Leading consultant for EQ Consulting, R U OK? Ambassador and world expert in delivering cognitive tools to recharge the human brain, Chelsea Pottenger, announced that, according to a survey of over 100,00 participants, 40% of us are getting less than six hours of sleep each night.
Whether this is because we’re wearing the wrong clothes or using our phones too close to bedtime, the result remains the same: the Australian economy is losing $17.9 billion annually in productivity due to sleep deprivation. $17.9 BILLION, people.
Studies have shown that overtired employees will take on fewer challenges, choose simpler tasks – as opposed to producing high-quality work – and produce fewer creative ideas and solutions to challenges they’re faced with. They’re also more likely to slack off and ‘social loaf’, i.e. ride the coattails of other people’s work.
And it’s not just our work performance that suffers when we’re sleepy – our cardiovascular fitness goes down by 30%, we eat 200 to 300 extra calories a day (up to 10kg of weight gain each year) and even accelerate fine lines and contribute to an uneven skin tone.
So, what can we do to get our sleep back on track?
‘Keep your socks on, turn your phone off and stick to two standard drinks’ seem to be the simple rules.
Keep your socks on.
81% of us are wearing the wrong clothing – or too many clothes – to bed. But it turns out it’s your socks, not your pyjamas that counts! “Your brain needs to drop its temperature by a few degrees to initiate sleep and pyjamas keep you warm rather than cool you down,” says Chelsea. “By removing them and simply keeping your socks on, you will coax the blood away from your core and thermal dump the heat required for a good night’s shut-eye.”
Turn your screens off
A staggering 83% of us Aussies are ‘Melatonin Vampires’, looking at our phones or watching screens in the 30 minutes before we go to bed. This exposure to light is pushing our biological clock in the wrong direction and affecting our melatonin production.
Two standard drinks only
Avoid taking the edge off a long day with a drink – alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and is more likely to disrupt sleep than caffeine or nicotine. People metabolise alcohol at the rate of one drink per hour, but the withdrawal effects persist for another two to four hours – this is when you will feel most restless. More than two standard drinks will interrupt deep REM sleep. Similarly, try to avoid coffee after noon. Only 10% of the population can metabolise caffeine before bed, while the rest of us take four to eight hours to eliminate it from our system – if you are extra sensitive and suffer hyper-arousal, it can take even longer.