This time of year, it can be harder than normal to get the recommended amount of sleep. While, winter offers cold temperatures and short days that are perfect for snuggling under the covers, spring brings us responsibilities and earlier sunrises. Pair that with activities, warming temps, yard work, and an ongoing list of items that have to be completed, and extra sleep isn't always in the schedule. Even when you want it to be.
But when your activities require you to get up early and stay up late, after a few days this can take a toll on the constantly-in-motion body. We become tired, irritable, and we just want to cancel our plans and take a much-needed nap.
So when kids, work, family, and anything else gets in the way of our normal amounts of rest, how can we get caught back up? How do you gain extra sleep when there isn't time for it? Oftentimes, other than saying no to a night out or cutting back on plans, it’s simply a call for some fancy scheduling. For instance, when you can move meetings so they fall on a single day, freeing up some time in the evening. That can mean an earlier bedtime a few nights a week, or even some time during the day to squeeze in a catnap. And while these naps may not offer much in the way of actual rest, they do allow the body to rest, relax, and recharge.
But when extra sleep isn't that easy, consider an earlier bedtime. Even by a few minutes. Heading to bed 30 or 15 minutes earlier each night can add up throughout the week. Another option is to close your eyes during your lunch hour. Eat and then have some quiet time, or eat at your desk for a lengthened break period.
Why Loss of Sleep Affects our Mood
When we miss out on sleep, those hours of unrest add up over time. And until the body is able to break even on this sleep deficit, it’s likely that you feel tired or groggy. Often for days at a time. Because our brains log this rest (or lack thereof), the side effects of sleep can stay with us for multiple days. This can mean that, on Monday morning you feel bright eyed and busy tailed after the ability to sleep in or have an afternoon nap the previous two days. But when Tuesday or Wednesday rolls around, you can easily fall back into a tired, sunken feeling that comes with lack of rest. This is why it’s important to catch up on sleep completely before taking on long hours.
Known as “sleep debt,” the amount of rest you should be getting vs. the amount that you actually get should be kept as small as possible. Obviously, life and responsibilities can interfere (especially this time of year), but when your schedule does allow, try to get in as many extra sleeping hours as you can. This will work to improve your health, while keeping you alert and awake during the day. More often than not, we get that afternoon tired feeling or sulk into grumpy moods because our bodies are reminding us of that sleep debt. (Other contributing factors can be mood swings or overeating.)
Whether your schedule allows for springtime naps or it’s time to readjust so that more sleep can be had, consider the effects this small change could have on your everyday life. Eliminating your sleep debt can improve your mood and help get your days off to a better start on a consistent basis.
Start getting more sleep today.