5 reasons to make sleep a top priority

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If you’re having difficulty writing, it might be time for you to make sleep a top priority…

By Ann Gomez

Do you view sleep as a luxury? Or something that gets bumped when other important activities are vying for your attention?

Whenever I catch myself being cavalier about my sleep habits, I am reminded of a piece of wisdom from American researcher, Jim Collins, the bestselling author of Good to Great, among other notable reads.

Jim is extremely disciplined and says no to enticing opportunities, so he can focus on what he loves doing: creating and teaching.

Jim carefully tracks every minute of his workday and strives to hit the following targets for how he spends his time: 50 percent on creative pursuits such as research and writing books, 30 percent on teaching-related activities, and 20 percent on all the other things he likes to do.

He also tracks his sleep and aims for a 10-day accumulation of 70-75 total hours sleep. He says, “If I start falling below that, I can still teach and do ‘other,’ but I can’t create.”

Have you ever found yourself staring at a blank screen, feeling stuck and unable to create? Or do you procrastinate on even the most routine tasks because you just don’t have the energy?

What if you could overcome this painful rut simply by making it a priority and a commitment to get more sleep?

A 2018 study by the National Sleep Foundation showed only 27 percent of U.S. adults were getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night during the week, negatively affecting their overall performance and wellbeing.

But missing sleep worsens our mood, weakens our memory, impairs critical thinking, and harms our decision-making all day long.

When we sleep, our bodies do “repair work.” Here’s how this crucial repair benefits our health and wellbeing:

  1. Sharper cognition – Lack of sleep slows down our thinking. It is harder to focus and to follow complex thoughts. As a result, we have a harder time assessing situations and making decisions.
  2. Faster reaction – Determining a precise number of drowsy-driving crashes, injuries, and fatalities is a challenge, but the research is clear: driving while tired is equivalent to intoxication from drugs or alcohol.
  3. Better memory – Nerve connections associated with memories are strengthened when we sleep. Conversely, sleepiness impairs our memory and chronic sleep deprivation puts us at risk of dementia-related diseases.
  4. Better mood – We are more irritable, more likely to fight with others, and less able to deal with stress when we are tired.

We should make sleep a priority for these reasons alone.

But if you need one more, remember what Jim Collins discovered: when we fall short, we can’t create. Sleep is vital to doing our best work. Like writing.

We know we are more productive when we are well rested. We make better decisions, handle stress better and we find more joy in our work and at home. So, it’s time to prioritize a solid night’s sleep.

If you need some more motivation, you may be interested in the National Sleep Foundation’s Bedtime Calculator. This little tool does the math for you, so know what time to go to bed (and what time to wake up) for better sleep health. Yes, it’s simple math, but sometimes we need to see it to act on it. You could also try out one of the many sleep apps available, but on that note, make sure you are limiting your exposure to blue light from your electronics at least one hour before bedtime, as it can disrupt your sleep pattern and affects the way your body produces melatonin.

If you are having trouble sleeping, please make it a priority to consult your doctor or find some resources to help you. Don’t overlook sleep problems and anxiety issues, as they can be serious disorders.

Here’s to better sleep health for all!


For more strategies you can use to set yourself up for success, see Ann’s latest book, Workday Warrior: A Proven Path to Reclaiming Your Time, published by Dundurn Press, 2022.



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