Good Habit 1: Sensational Sleep

Physiological habit sleep © Erik Back 2011

This is the first article in a series of good habits that are based on my model “The Hierarchy of Habits”. At the foundation of the pyramid you find the physiological habits and today is about sleep.

Sleep research

Sleep is the most important habit of your life. If you do not sleep at all then you risk death; it is as simple as that. If you only sleep very little you will live but you will have a terrible life. I have seen relationships break because of lack of sleep; I have seen even more people get permanently sick because of lack of sleep.

Research show that you need 7-8 hours of sleep and if you do not get the sleep you need your cognitive performance will not remain intact. You will not be thinking as clear as you could. At 6 hours sleep or less research show that you will regenerate over time; your life span will be shortened.

You can read the research result that was published in 2003 here. If you would like a less academic text you can read an article from The New York Times here.

How I got a better sleeping habit

For a few months I have had only very little sleep, about 5-6 hours every night sometimes I managed to get a nap in the middle of the day. In the beginning it was not a problem with less sleep but lately I have had problems performing during the day. I forget things and have difficulties being positive. I realised that I had to work on my sleeping habits.

I wanted to get a stable sleeping pattern to get enough sleep and to bring balance into my sleeping habits; this is what I do:

I get up at 6.30 (6.30am) every morning. I started out getting up at 6.00 (6am) but that was too early, maybe because it is winter and dark most of the day (I live in Denmark and right now we only have about 7 hours of daylight)

I go to bed around 22.00 (10pm) in the evening, sometimes later, but I aim at ten o’clock. This results in approximately eight hours of sleep.

I take a nap during the day if I have the opportunity to do so. I never allow myself to nap more than 45 minutes. I have always had a biphasic sleeping pattern; I do not know if that is good or bad but most research seem to prove that a nap is a healthy habit as long as you take the nap between 13.00 and 15.00 (1pm – 3pm).

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