The effect of sleep deprivation on the body and mind is well documented with poor sleep being linked to physical problems such as a weakened immune system and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Adults who sleep less than six hours a night also have a 13% higher mortality risk. Research also indicates that 20% of road accidents involve a driver with fatigue, and these accidents are 50% more likely to result in death or serious injury.
Amazon best-selling author, techpreneur, global media industry leader, mother of four and insuppressibly alpha female, Bianca Best, knows only too well how supposed ‘extreme productivity’ coupled with a lack of sleep and value compromise can be destructive and lead to cycles of burnout.
Bianca Best says: ‘Across two decades of personally chasing unrealistic success ideologies I squashed my authentic nature and repeatedly cracked in the wake of frenzied productivity becoming immobilised by immune collapse.
‘I misguidedly came to believe that I could function on 40 minutes of sleep a night. I remember one night setting my alarm for 2am to do two hours of work before racing back to bed, snatching a couple more hours before the alarm went off again at 6am so I could get my exhausted self up to London. Even my sleep was adrenaline filled and had an agenda. And I wondered why I kept burning out. Only once I studied sleep and recognised the cost of disregarding bedtime did my life start to transform.’
Four years ago, Bianca Best broke the cycle, finding a life that blends work, family, passions, friends, fitness and spirituality into a harmonious whole. Using her personal experiences, she has written her best-selling book Flourish to advise high-attaining women how to achieve balance. She uses her Energy-SCAPE model to outline six key transformational steps to achieve maximum impact without burnout.
Bianca Best has learned to revere rest and she now recognises the phenomenal healing power of sleep. She is well qualified to advise women that having it all without burnout is a modern myth.
Here’s is Bianca Best’s guide to restorative sleep:
Create a haven
Make sure your bedroom is a sleep sanctuary. Ensure your mattress, pillows, duvet and your sheets make you feel totally wonderful.
Beware of the blue light
Avoid screens as you wind down before sleep. Devices emit light of all colours, but it’s the blues in particular that pose a danger to sleep. Blue light prevents the release of melatonin, a hormone associated with night-time tranquillity that reduces alertness and makes sleep more inviting. Beware! Teenagers with bedrooms resembling NASA’s control centre have the worst possible conditions for deep, rejuvenating sleep.
Soak in an aromatherapy bath
Scents have power to evoke emotions and memories instantly and can directly affect our bodies through our nervous system. Aromatherapy is a complementary medicine practice that taps into the healing power of scents from essential oils to balance your mind, body and spirit.
No food after 8pm
If food is fuel, why on earth do you need fuel as your body begins to shut down for the day? After a meal your body is in digestion mode, which means it’s working, it’s stimulated, it’s producing gastric acids, and still alert and functioning, which hinders sleep.
It’s heaven to dive into the pages of a book and escape the day. Deliberately detach your mind from work, the kids, the house and trigger your imagination, snuggle up and lose yourself.
Savour peace and quiet. Enjoy the spiritual growth that blooms amid silence. Tune into yourself. Listen to your intuition. Switch everything off and just be.
Choose a winding-down routine that works for you. Build in time at the end of each day to become present and still, by whatever means – perhaps journalling every night before sleep. By letting thoughts flow and reflecting on the day and observing what you did well, what you could have done better; and considering what the next day holds, what you’re grateful for and who you send love to can be considered a form of therapy. Create whatever feels right for you.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He is also the editor-in-chief of Psychreg Journal Psychology, and writes a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today.
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