Is Your Business Keeping you Up?

Sleep is not only core to your health, but also the health of your business productivity

 

Editor's note: This will be a series of articles on how Small Business Owners Gain an Advantage by Keeping in Tune to their Health

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

—Annie Dillard

I’m sure we’ve all encountered in our day to day living certain people who look, feel and behave much younger than they really are. Introspectively, we question ourselves as to how can anyone look 10-15 years younger and go about it so effortlessly.   Their mind is sharp, they are actively energetic, have flawless skin, good posture and a wonderful disposition. Health and medical professionals would say that these individuals have a biological age (active rate at which the body is aging) that is less than their chronological age (current age in years).

So how can we lower our biological age?

What can we do today going forward to potentially halt or reverse the progressive aging process. We know if the possibility of looking younger existed we would all sign up for it, however we know we can’t outsmart mother nature. We can however influence our aging process (fine lines, wrinkles, gray hair and joint pain) through modifications in our daily living. If we look retrospectively we realize that we have become the recipients of age accelerating lifestyle factors: increased stress, inadequate nutrition, lack of physical activity, sleep deprivation, alcohol and tobacco use, and exposure to environmental toxins. Therefore, can our bodies offer us protection to win the fight against aging when we’ve become submissive to these daily toxins?

Sleep and your biological age:

Some small business owners and executives are in a constant state of sleep deprivation. Their busy schedules can make it challenging to form habits that involve carving out time to sleep. They work tirelessly to succeed at reaching deadlines, strive to create and attain new business, socially network with existing or new clients and stay late at the office for those last minute impromptu meetings all the while unaware that their health is being short-changed from the body not being at rest.

Sleeping is one of the most important and very often overlooked lifestyle factor that may influence our overall health and biological age. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in the pineal gland of brain which regulates our sleep and wake cycles. During daylight hours, the pineal gland remains inactive. During the evening hours as darkness approaches, the pineal gland becomes active and starts producing melatonin which is released into the blood. As a result, melatonin initiates the process of making us feel drowsy, tired and sleepy providing us the cue needed to get ready for bedtime.

When we are in a peaceful sleep, our bodies perform many vital repairs during the sleep cycle such as energizing the immune system, balancing hormones, regulating metabolism, replacing damaged tissues, storing memories and resolving daily experiences. Therefore, executives and small business owners (many whom are my patients) who feel that pulling all-nighters at the office or at home will make them more productive are actually causing a disruption in the body’s physiology of the brain which can potentially compromise their health.

Why business owners and executives understand the importance of sleep

According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, most people don’t get enough sleep. Harvard sleep researcher, Dr. Charles Czeisler, has found that getting four hours of sleep for five nights in a row can have a similar impact on memory, attention, and speed of thinking as being legally intoxicated. "We would never say, this person is a great worker! He's drunk all the time!”

However, as small business owners and executives we glorify sacrificing sleep and continuously seem to burn the candle at both ends. We thrive on forgoing sleep to work late hours at the office or back at home. The daytime effect of inadequate sleep leads to fatigue, bad mood, short tempered, frustration and a lack of focus. Research studies reveal that sleep deficit carries both short and long-term consequences to our health.

  • In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the workplace, its effects can be seen in reduced efficiency, productivity and errors.
  • In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of chronic health problems including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and these conditions may lead to a shortened life expectancy.

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About the author

Cecilia DeMatteo

Cecilia DeMatteo, MS, is currently a freelance writer in the field of health and nutrition with publication in a recurring column, independent articles and book outlines. In the number of years spent in this field, Cecilia’s focus has been primarily on individual lifestyle habits and how they impact human health. Her writing provides readers insight into adapting preventative measures to reduce modifiable risk factors that contribute to the cause of today’s chronic conditions. Through her timely and related articles, her audience acquires a greater knowledge in the latest evidence-based scientific research in overall health. Cecilia DeMatteo, MS, is the former Co-Founder of Enhanced Health Coaching (EHC) in Scarsdale, NY. EHC’s commitment was to provide personalized strategies for both corporate and individuals seeking to optimize cardiovascular health. Cecilia holds a Master’s of Science in Nutrition and a BBA in Finance. 

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