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Revenge of the Lack of Sleep

Revenge of the Lack of Sleep

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” That’s the mantra of the work-obsessed. You may feel like sleep is an area where you can cut corners, but not getting enough sleep is bad for your health and productivity.

Approximately 90% of people don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep that they need every night.[1] Like many aspects of healthy living, we tend to ignore what’s good for us until we notice negative side effects of unhealthy choices.

If you’re forgetful, tired in the middle of the day, or have trouble concentrating, you may be sleep deprived. It’s tempting to work longer hours to get more done, but the reality is that you won’t be able to maintain solid performance without rest. You’ll more likely notice a drop in your productivity as you sleep less.

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Sleep-walking through your life is dragging

Some people think they can make up for a night of poor sleep. Taking a nap the next day or sleeping in on weekends may make you feel like you’ve compensated for lost hours. If you’ve never had a health issue related to sleep deprivation, and you’ve been staying up late throughout high school and college, you might feel that this isn’t a big deal.

    Unfortunately, you can’t just make up for lost sleep. Your body does best when you’re on a regular sleep schedule. Depriving yourself of rest is not like a charge on your credit card that you can pay off later. After you’ve lost the sleep, you can’t pay off sleep-debt. Read more about Why You Can’t Pay off a Sleep Debt You’ve Accumulated Over the Week.

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    Some people say that they can get by on 6 hours or less per night. They may be more tired than they realize. Just because you’re present and conscious doesn’t mean that you’re in top condition.

      A study published on Brain and Behavior shows that our bodies sleep more efficiently if they have to, but our brains won’t be able to achieve peak performance.[2] In fact, the brain of a person who sleeps less than 6 hours per night behaves like they’ve had a few drinks.[3] Clearly, you won’t be able to do your best work if you aren’t well-rested.

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      You’re not yourself when you’re sleep deprived

      Only a well-rested mind has the chance to be healthy and productive.

      • Being tired makes you stubborn. Nothing makes you quite as bull-headed as wanting to take a nap. Even the most agreeable people become stubborn when they’re tired. Change requires energy, so naturally a sleep deprived person will be set in their ways.
      • Forget about being creative. When you haven’t rested, you have to work extra hard to do basic tasks. With rest, you can come up with new ways to solve problems.
      • You won’t feel motivated. Not only does your brain become less efficient after one night of poor sleep, but your drive to work also decreases.[4] Even the easiest tasks seem challenging when you’re tired.
      • Waiting around seems impossible. Patience goes out the window when you’re sleep-deprived. If you’re already tired, you may become impatient with anyone or anything that requires more effort or energy.

        Find out more about how sleep is closely related to productivity here in this article:  8 Secrets About Sleep And Productivity I Wish I Knew Earlier

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        Break the sleep-deprived cycle

        There’s still a lot that we don’t understand about sleep, but we know that our brains need it to function well. Just like your body needs to recharge after physical effort, your brain also needs real breaks to restore your energy.

        Your mind has to rest in order to solve problems. If you focus on an issue for too long, you get tunnel vision. Allow yourself to enter diffused thinking mode, in which your brain works on the problem while you are doing other things. When you’re struggling, taking a break or sleeping on the problem is the best thing to do. Take a look at this article to find out Why Sleeping on a Difficult Problem Helps You Get the Answer.

        Inspired to set yourself up for sleep success? Try Lifehack’s CEO daily routine: Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

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        Being sleep deprived may not seem bad on the surface, but it can cause a lot of health and productivity problems for you. You can’t be the best version of yourself without rest.

        Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

        Reference

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        Jolie Choi

        Having experienced her own extreme transformation process, Jolie strongly believes that staying healthy takes determined and consistent action.

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        Published on June 8, 2021

        What is Mental Energy And How To Maintain A High Level of It

        What is Mental Energy And How To Maintain A High Level of It

        We all understand “energy” in the physical sense, and we mostly experience the feeling of having a lot or a lack of physical energy. But physical energy is very different from mental energy. So, what is mental energy?

        Mental energy is a mood and a measure of the willingness to undertake cognitive tasks. When you are experiencing an abundance of mental energy, you will feel motivated, efficient, and focused when dealing with tasks. You may feel like you can take on more and have the capacity to throw yourself into a situation without feeling stress or anxiety.

        However, unfortunately in the busyness of modern society, you may relate more to the feeling of having a lack of mental energy. Take yourself back to a situation where you are juggling lots of tasks, work is hard, and home life is emotionally exhausting. This is the feeling of a lack of mental energy. You may have felt like being on the verge of burnout, found yourself procrastinating, and had the feeling of just not having the capacity to take on any more emotional or cognitive tasks.

        You must deal with a lack of mental energy before it develops into mental exhaustion. Let us take a look at the symptoms of mental exhaustion and the toll that it can take on you as a person and your life.

        Signs of Mental Exhaustion

        Here are the mental, physical, and behavioral signs of exhaustion.

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        Mental Signs

        • Depression
        • Anxiety
        • Lack of motivation
        • Difficulty concentrating
        • Anger

        Physical Signs

        • Headache
        • Body aches
        • Change in appetite
        • Weight loss or gain
        • Increased illness

        Behavioral Signs

        • Poor performance at work
        • Social withdrawal
        • Inability to keep to commitments
        • Increased time off sick at work

        The signs of mental exhaustion are less than desirable, and you should reiterate the importance of maintaining your mental energy and do not let it be an afterthought.[1]

        How to Maintain a High Level of Mental Energy

        The maintenance of mental energy is all in the approach. We can not always control our situation or the number of tasks that we have on at a particular moment in time. However, we can control how we manage and maintain our mental health and mental energy at these times. Just as our physical energy can be maintained through various methods, so can our mental energy.

        Now, let us take a look at some of the useful methods that can help us to maintain a high level of mental energy starting from today.

        1. Get Adequate Sleep

        Sleep may sound like the most obvious method to help maintain a high level of mental energy, however, it is very important.

        There are two stages of sleep, REM (rapid eye movement) which is the stage of sleep when you dream, and Non-REM. Non-REM can be divided into three stages, the final stage being deep sleep. The deep sleep stage is where scientists believe that your body renews and repairs itself and also the stage that is most important in terms of energy maintenance.

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        There are many ways in which you can create good sleep hygiene. These include having time away from devices before sleep, stopping caffeine intake a few hours before you plan to go to sleep, and going to sleep at the same time each evening.

        2. Structure Your Day

        Structuring your day can apply to either your home or your work life. The key is to prioritize the important tasks so that if you run out of time, you are safe in the knowledge that these have been completed. If you don’t do this, then you are at risk of overworking yourself, staying at work late, or doing household tasks into the evening.

        At home, this may be washing first or tidying the house before you sit down to have a relax. At work, you can write down a list of your tasks for the day and then, list them from the highest priority to the lowest. You can tick off each task as you go along. Any uncompleted tasks can then be transferred to the next day. Furthermore, if you are running out of time, you’ll know in advance and can delegate the priority work to ensure that this is completed on time.

        3. Eat Well

        Eating well is important for both physical and mental health. Eating a well-balanced diet and certain foods can aid memory, concentration, and focus and thus, helping you maintain mental energy.

        Let us take a look at some foods that can do this:

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        • Wholegrains – can improve concentration and focus as it provides a steady supply of energy throughout the day.
        • Blueberries – can boost short-term memory as they contain protective compounds called anthocyanins.
        • Blackcurrants – can reduce anxiety and stress as they contain Vitamin C which is widely thought to increase mental agility.
        • Pumpkin seeds – can enhance memory and boost mood as they are rich in magnesium, B vitamins, and tryptophan, which are believed to be important in serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that has a positive impact on mood.

        4. Get Some Fresh Air

        Going outdoors can have a restorative effect on mental health. You do not have to undertake a ten-mile walk to reap the benefits. Simply being out in the garden, going for a stroll in the countryside, or doing a brisk walk to the shop can have a positive effect on mental energy. Research has shown that spending time outdoors can relieve anxiety and depression. Furthermore, it promotes relaxation and can improve confidence and self-esteem.[2]

        5. Take a Break

        Taking a break every so often whether at work or when doing any task can maintain a high level of mental energy and focus when needed. A break can involve something as simple as walking away from your computer and changing your environment for a few minutes by going to make a cup of tea to strolling around the block on your lunch rather than staying in the office.

        This change of environment takes your mind off the task at hand, rejuvenates, and reenergizes you. Focus can then be maintained and the task at hand can be done to the best of your abilities without mental fatigue.

        6. Exercise Your Brain

        Challenging your brain does for your mind what exercise does for your body. Physical exercise can stimulate your physical energy just as exercising your brain can stimulate your mental energy.

        There are many ways to exercise your brain including:

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        • Brain training exercises can stimulate the mind and also boost intelligence.
        • Learn something new to create new challenges for your brain.
        • Socializing can stimulate multiple areas of the brain. The array of activities involved in socializing engages different areas of the brain with each activity.

        7. Meditate

        Studies of meditation have shown to have many benefits to the brain. Such benefits include an improvement in brain function and energy levels.

        One such study found that practicing meditation for just 25 minutes a day can provide this boost. This is because meditation has been found to release endorphins and increase blood flow to the brain. When meditating, you focus your attention on your breathing and the aim is to eliminate the busyness of the brain and your thoughts. This provides a much-needed rest for your brain thus increasing your mental energy levels.[3]

        Final Thoughts

        Unfortunately, a lack of mental energy is experienced by many and potentially, it is more commonly felt than the feeling of having a high level of energy. Once you spot the signs of a lack of mental energy, it is time to take action before those feelings worsen and develop into mental exhaustion.

        However, the good news is that there are basic steps that you can take to maintain a high level of mental energy, and it is just as important as maintaining a high level of physical energy. These steps can be incorporated into your daily life with minimal effort. Eat well, sleep well, get some fresh air, take a break, challenge your brain, structure your day and meditate—it is as simple as that.

        More Tips on Boosting Mental Energy

        Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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        Reference

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