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Ways To Improve Sleep & Avoid the Pitfalls of Sleep Deprivation

Fallout from Getting Too Little Sleep

One of my most vivid sleep disasters happened when my first child was six weeks old. For the first six weeks of his existence he slept in fits and starts, and screamed the rest of the time as colic ruled.

I had just gone from working full time, to being a new mom at home and now sleep was a distant memory. Before his arrival I worked hard all day, and then relaxed at night. With my son’s appearance we entered the no sleep zone and all routines evaporated. Finally, as he reached six weeks, I arranged a sitter and went out to run errands. Suddenly I found myself at an intersection in traffic with no idea where I was! After pulling to the curb and regrouping, I realized I was only a few miles from my home.

Sleep deprivation had turned me into a zombie. After that incident I started arranging lots of backup and began napping when my son napped. I never took sleep for granted again.

Becoming disoriented is one of many sleep deprivation dangers.

If you are burning the candle at both ends, as you work all day and party all night, or heading off to a second job day after day, you might want to reconsider. Sleep is a basic need, just as vital as food and water.

Lack of sleep can trigger accelerated eating and lapses in judgment.

Barriers let down when the brownie tray stops in front of you, or you drive past your favorite burger place. Snap decisions increase when your sleep time shrinks, but everything else kept moving right along. 

Work errors or home accidents may multiply when sleep is lost.

The ability to click through figures and solve intricate work problems may be temporarily impaired when loss of sleep fuzzes your brain. Leaving a boiling pot on the stove or a candle burning when you leave a room also becomes more likely when lack of sleep muddles your brain.

If you are running into sleep deprivation, work to improve sleep.

Use the time before bedtime for meditation or yoga poses, or a good book, letting yourself wind down. Cut out screen time, tobacco and alcohol right before bedtime. Make the effort to make your bedroom a peaceful retreat with relaxing colors, light blocking drapes and a comfortable bed. And try to arrange approximately the same bedtime every night.

Whatever you do about lost sleep, don’t give up until you solve it. As always, if sleep problems persist, see your doctor.

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