Strategies for Finding Time to Sleep

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Years ago my dad coined the phrase “Go, go, go, crash Syndrome”, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I fully understood what this meant.  “Go, go, go, crash Syndrome” is how adulthood feels everyday.  Everyone is absolutely exhausted, and we go and go and go until we finally get to sit down for a minute, and that’s when we crash.  But, how do we combat this exhaustion?

Medical professionals are quick to point out that the solution to feeling tired is to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night (per the National Sleep Foundation).  We all know sleep is important, but realistically, when are you supposed to find time to sleep?  The demands of modern-day work and family obligations do not seem to leave time for much else, and what seems to get squeezed the most is our time for sleep.  

Here are some tips to help you strategize how best to fit sleep into your busy life:

Keep track of your time: The first step to finding time to sleep is understanding where your time is going.  Keep a notebook with you at all times for a week and make note of what you are doing with your time throughout the day.  I have used this method before, to track my productivity and it really works.  It helped me see that those five minute breaks I was taking frequently at work were really adding up to an hour a day where I was checking news on my phone instead of crossing off work to dos.  I could have invested that hour into work and left earlier.  Laura Vanderkam of the New York Times, tried this technique for a year, and she discovered that even with four kids and a demanding job, she still had time to spare when she broke it down by the numbers.  Additionally, this will help you see if there are tasks on your list that you may be able to outsource to others.

Outsource where you can: Now that you know where your time goes, think about what you need to do yourself and what, if anything you can outsource.  I was shocked when one of my good friends who averages 100 hour weeks at work mentioned that he didn’t hire a cleaning service.  His reasoning was that he only had a 500 square foot apartment, but in actuality, when your time is that precious, a cleaning service could not only win him back some well needed time, but also provide him with the great feeling of coming home to a clean house.  If you’re spending thirty minutes a night packing lunches for your kids, that adds up to ten additional hours a month that you could have been sleeping.  Does it make sense for you to pack those lunches, or can you afford to have your children buy lunch at school?

Hand in hand with outsourcing, is asking for help.  Be candid with those around you about how much you are juggling.  Often times your significant other can help with things they weren’t even aware you were doing.

Give yourself a bedtime and try to stick to it: This one seems nearly impossible.  The bottom line is this is a goal.  Life is messy and there is no guarantee that you will be able to get to bed at this time every single night, but at least it gives you something to shoot for.  Think about your work environment and talk to your supervisor to negotiate a schedule that works for you.  In the past when I worked a job with demanding hours, I would notice other associates didn’t arrive until 9 or 10am.  We may have been working long hours, but there was some flexibility built in that we could take advantage of.
Getting enough sleep is not an easy thing to do.  It takes a lot of work to negotiate the flexibility you need and a lot of discipline to stick to a regular sleep schedule.  We are living in an age where we are overstretched and valued for our productivity, while sleep is perceived as a threat to that productivity.  However, research has shown that we are more productive when we are well slept.  Ultimately, we need to shift the way our culture views sleep from a nuisance to a necessity.

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