In our modern day culture it has become a badge of honor to claim exhaustion. All you have to do is lose sleep to get more done. It’s like a jab at status. If I’m “exhausted” it means I’m important and in demand, which somehow translates to being successful. To get ahead you must sacrifice sleep otherwise you’re just lazy. And just like that, a culture was born into the idea that to be cool, one had to be exhausted.
The big question here is, are we really getting more done? Turns out, no. Yet as a society we continue to profess that productivity and success are one in the same with lack of sleep. And has nothing to do with those lazy people who lie around for 8 hours a night. What has occurred could be deemed a cultural phenomenon. Insomnia. In our effort to override our natural bio rhythm we have managed to screw up our sleep patterns and invented “exhaustion insomnia.” So tired you can’t sleep but during the day you can barely stay awake.
Finally it’s hitting a nerve, because overcoming insomnia is a growing trend, and pharmaceutical companies are taking notice. And so are my readers because one of my top posts is still, how to feng shui yourself out of insomnia.
I myself have always been a sleeper. But I’ve also always been deeper in tune to my body. For a short stint in college I would stay out all night and then work all day. That turned out to be a huge no-go for me. I could barely function physically let alone think cognitively. At it’s best I was responsible and showed up, at it’s worst, it wasn’t fair to my employer to have a shell of a human. So I learned early on that to be my best self I needed to have sleep and avoid fatigue at all costs.
Many professionals like Doctors, Attorneys, Nurses, Fireman, Policeman and many more, get little sleep, and yet they are responsible for pretty big tasks that require solid thinking. I was shocked to learn that during the O.J. Simpson trial most of the council was averaging four hours of sleep a night. Hmmmm, after just a month of that I would have been a zombie, but for them that continued for over 9 months.
So why all the fuss about sleep?
Well it turns out I’m not the only one who adores sleep. For years I was a “closeted” eight hour sleeper. God for bid anyone know the truth – especially when I worked in Los Angeles. It was considered weak and lazy. But there is a shift occurring, albeit slow, but sleep is starting to be embraced by the cool kids. And I have to say it’s about damn time!
Arianna Huffington’s new book, The Sleep Revolution, shares about her sleep deprivation to start a revolutionary paper. She even shares a story about visiting schools with her daughter all day, and then staying up all night to catch up with work – sacrificing sleep to catch up. This later led to her collapsing.
Shawn Stevenson wrote Sleep Smarter earlier this year, where he shares 21 ways to get a better nights sleep. As a fitness expert he knows the importance of sleep and why it matters for optimal health.
Even Noah Kagan, the number 30 employee at Facebook, and entrepreneur of Sumo Me shares with Tim Ferris the importance of sleep and why it matters.
And the buck doesn’t stop there. I’m starting to hear from top executives, entrepreneurs, and other professionals the importance of a good nights sleep – and how they want it incorporated in their interior design. Hallelujah! And let me just say folks, this by definition is good feng shui.
So here’s the rub
Losing sleep causes what’s called sleep debt. If your body is designed to get 8 hours of sleep and you repeatedly get 5 or 6, you are accumulating sleep debt. It’s no different than living beyond your means, spending more and acquiring debt. However, this debt plays a harsh role on your body. If you think you’re hacking the system, think again. It causes premature aging, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, diabetes, increased accidents, stressed immune system and even death. It has been proven that prolonged sleep deprivation over many years causes premature death, and has been proven. This phenomenon, known as “blue death” has been studied where firefighters, and police officers who had high stressed jobs, would commonly die right after retirement – because of the severe, and prolonged stress they put on their immune system.
If you’re still not convinced, just talk to any mom who is sleep deprived. My good friend Rachel Shingleton can fill you in on all sorts of shenanigans her one year old puts her through. Talk about sufficient birth control.
OK, so you’re sold on the idea of getting at least seven hours of sleep, but you suffer from insomnia, what can you do? Here’s my 5 best tips from an interior design perspective that helps create a capsule that is ideal for sleep.
Sleep by design – 5 tips to eliminate insomnia
- Mattress – Get the best that you can afford but I highly recommend getting one that is all-natural and organic. Did you know that the average mattress has more chemicals than an entire barrel of crude oil? Off gassing can occur for years and as you rest in slumber you’re breathing in deep breaths of chemicals. That is sending off alarms to your body, and causes major health effects – including your insomnia. The Alexander Signature Mattress, from Nest is the top rated organic mattress on the market.
- Linens – Get the best you can afford. Linens should breathe, be comfortable and feel good against your skin. These ones from Pine Cone Hill are great, but if that’s too much these ones are also great.
- Black out drapes – These ones from Horchow are perfect. They are not only attractive but block out the light. Our body has light sensitive receptors on the skin, so as soon as the sun starts peeking in your body registers that as “it’s time to get up.” Instead get black out so you wake up when your fully rested.
- Organic pillows – same reason above with the mattresses, your head is smashed in a pillow all night breathing in chemicals. Opt for an organic version that guarantees no chemicals and lets your body’s defenses relax so it can rest. These ones from Wayfair are a great place to start.
- Remove all electronics and create a sleep routine – You’ve heard me say this again and again, and I think every article on sleep includes at least one line about electronics – but they are active energy that stimulates your brain. Get them out of your room, and start a sleep routine. Think about it, we get ready for work, we get ready for a date, we even get ready for the gym, but a lot of people skip the step of getting ready for bed. Most just crash. Get some kick ass PJ’s, like these short johns from Hanna Anderson – cool, comfy and tells your brain AHHHHH, it’s time for bed.
It doesn’t take much, but adding just a few things to your space and routine will greatly enhance your chances of better sleep.