Sleep. No matter how hard we try, it’s something most admins just don’t get enough of. Evening calls and emails from executives, worries about late reports or big events, and an often-crazy schedule on both a personal and a professional level all contribute to our lack of zzz’s each night.
But it’s not just the bags under our eyes that suffer – sleep deprivation has a host of other, lesser-known consequences. For instance:
- Sleep deprivation can cause you to gain weight by making you reach for the “feel-good” carbohydrates, slowing down your metabolism, and increasing your cortisol level.
- In the long-term, lack of sleep can put you at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and, in extreme cases, early mortality.
- Sleep deprivation is even thought to be a contributing factor in the disasters at both Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl.
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than a third of Americans are getting less than the recommended seven hours of shut-eye per night – and that lack of sleep can be more dangerous than we realize.
Research from Penn State implies that “extended wakefulness might result in losing or injuring neurons that are crucial for thinking and alertness.” Yes – this means that a lack of sleep can actually cause you to lose brain cells.
Scary, isn’t it?
Are You Sleep Deprived?
For those who routinely survive on less than the recommended amount of sleep per night, the signs that you may be sleep deprived might fly under the radar. After all, you have likely become accustomed to the bleary-eyed mornings and the sleepless nights.
However, recognizing the signs of sleep deprivation (and learning what to do about them) can positively benefit every aspect of your life, from your career to your family and beyond.
This article from The Huffington Post chronicles some “surprising” signs of sleep deprivation, including:
- You fall asleep immediately. (It takes the average person 10-20 minutes to fall asleep.)
- You have problems concentrating.
- You’re unnaturally forgetful.
- You’re having issues with motor skills. (Stubbing your toe, tripping over your own feet, dropping your file folders on your way to the conference room.)
- Your interpersonal relationships are struggling. (When you’re tired, it’s natural to be a bit “snappy” with people that you generally get along well with.)
If you identify with the above signs, you’re probably sleep deprived. But there are plenty of things you can do to overcome the issue and begin waking up refreshed every morning.
Tips for Sleeping Better
Regardless of whether you’re squeaking by on five to six hours of sleep a night or getting the full recommended seven to nine hours (sometimes), everyone can use a better night’s sleep. And these tips will help!
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. Sure, that iced mocha pick-me-up on your last break seemed like a good idea at the time, but is it really worth lying awake well after bedtime watching late-night talk shows because you just can’t seem to wind down?
- Keep the electronics out of the bedroom. Your bed is for sleeping – not for sending work emails, playing games on your smartphone, or even catching up on that binge-worthy Netflix drama. The blue light these devices emit can suppress your melatonin levels.
- Wind down before going to bed. Anyone who has ever had a sleepless night understands the futility and frustration of lying down in the dark with their eyes wide open. Instead, try doing something to wind down before your head ever hits your pillow. A hot bath, a warm glass of milk, a steaming cup of (decaffeinated) tea – all of these things can help relax you!
- Write down your problems. Journaling is a fantastic way to get your thoughts out of your head and down on paper. Start spending 10 to 15 minutes a night writing down your worries, to-do lists, and emotions before you hit the hay.
- Practice focused self-care. In the end, you’re no good to anyone if you’re not good to yourself. A focused self-care routine will leave you feeling relaxed, de-stressed, and ready to greet the new day with a smile.
Have a Great Night!
Administrative professionals don’t generally come equipped with an off switch. We’re usually conditioned to respond to our executive, colleagues, and career 24/7. But sleep isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity, and without it, we can’t perform to our abilities. A good night’s sleep leaves you refreshed and ready to deal with tomorrow’s challenges and successes!
Do you get enough sleep each night? Why or why not? Let us know at AdminSuccess@AllThingsAdmin.com. We’d love to hear from you!
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.