With this pandemic hopefully winding down, we should be looking to continue the good health habits that have been drilled into us this past year. By keeping a healthy lifestyle we can not only support our immune system fight the current flus, we can also help our immune system take a much meeded break. As we all have experienced, being on call 24 x 7 exhausts us. It can also exhaust our immune system and lead to chronic inflammation, a precursor of many of our chronic illnesses today.
So in addition to washing our hands (which i think will stay even when 6′ distance and masking may not be needed), eating nutritious whole foods ( i.e. not processed; organic when possible), staying hydrated, exercising (preferably outdoors and allowing nature to help heal) and getting a good night’s sleep consistently should remain our priorities.
A recent republished article by McKinsey & Co, “Organizational Cost of Insufficient Sleep” February 2016, highlights the impact of impaired sleep for leaders; however, it doesn’t just effect leaders. According to the article (and other research that I have done), sleep deprived brains lose ability to make accurate judgements and decisions. The last area of the brain that develops is the neo-cortex. This is where sensory perceptions, motor commands and language occur. The frontal lope of the neo-cortex is where problem solving, reasoning, organizing, planning and execution occur. This is the area most affected by sleep loss. Do you remember the last time you were able to solve a problem by “sleeping on it?” Thank your neo-cortex.
The article goes on to compare impaired sleeping with blood alcohol levels. By not getting your 8 hours, you begin to experience similar effects to alcohol impacts. By staying awake 17-19 hours i.e. sleeping only 5-7 hours, it is like having a blood alcohol level of .05; sleeping just 4 hours is equated to a blood alcohol level of .1 or drunk.
We have it within our own POWER to affect our health and wellness going forward. Will you take the lessons learned this past year and look to be a better advocate for your own health? If these 4 actions (sleep, nutrition, water, exercise) are too much to include at one time, start with one and add another, then another until all 4 are a part of your normal life.