Rest + Routine + Rhythm Series – Part I: Rest
We all want to be our most creative, most productive and most happy selves. That’s a lot of mosts, but don’t worry—your friends at Cast are here to help. We’ve scoured the globe for sage advice and emerging tech to develop this prescription for your work and life: Rest + Routine + Rhythm. For this first installment of our three-part series, we’ll be looking at rest and focusing on its importance, fickleness and how to get the most out of it.
Everyone wants free wine, right? Count us in. Now, what if you had to give an important presentation that could make or break your year after four glasses? Not so much. Research by the Hult International Business School equates the effects of pulling an all-nighter to consuming close to a bottle of wine. That free buzz comes with a big cost. Lack of sleep has been linked to the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl nuclear meltdowns, Space Shuttle Challenger accident and Exxon Valdez oil spill. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that getting your rest is essential to avoiding disasters at work.
GIMME SOME OF THOSE ZZZs PLEASE
We certainly don’t want to be on the hook for nuclear meltdowns or environmental disasters, but adequate rest provides more than alertness. At Cast, we’re purveyors of innovation and creativity in the workplace. Sleep is the fuel that feeds these inspirational fires. Lack of it impairs our ability to think flexibly and adapt. While our bodies rest, our brains are hard at work, sweeping out the clutter of the day and reinforcing the pathways created by learning. A 2017 Harvard study showed that this consolidation of information occurs only during sleep. There’s a lot of fundamental processing going on behind the scenes when the subconscious is weaving dreams about your newfound ability to fly or showing up to work sans pants. Thank you, synaptic rejuvenation!
Missing this restorative processing can lead to mistakes, and mistakes bring with them stress and poor mood. More directly however, a lack of rest also manifests itself physically. Sleep debt causes biological changes that lead to irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate and moodiness. Long term, those who don’t get adequate sleep are 10 times more likely to develop major depression.
“In the sleep world, stress is to sleep as yin is to yang—opposite forces that are forever linked,” says Chris Winter, M.D. “Stress prevents sleep. Sleep deprivation increases stress and its consequences.”
You’ve probably seen the clocks tracking the national debt but what about our friend, the circadian clock, and that dreaded sleep debt? A 2016 RAND Corporation study found the U.S. sustains economic losses of up to $411 billion annually due to sleep debt—nearly three times that of Japan. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that lack of rest costs $50 billion a year in lost productivity, with the average employee losing 11.3 days of productivity each year. ZZZs equal $$$, folks.
TANGLED UP IN BLUE
Blues music originated in the Deep South around the turn of the 19th century. Legendary Mississippi bluesman Robert Johnson is said to have been gifted his skill playing the blues through a devilish deal at the crossroads. We, too, are at a crossroads, and the devil has a different blue to dazzle us with—the one emanating from all of those screens saturating our lives. These screens connect us and provide us with opportunities to work at any time from far-flung locations. They engage us with their convenience, but they also burden us because of that convenience. It’s more than always being available, though, that disrupts sleep.
The wavelength of blue light you stare at for hours every day is most disruptive at night and particularly dastardly when it comes to restricting your ability to fall asleep. Only six-and-a-half hours of blue light can shift circadian rhythms by three hours. If you need help falling asleep, you can look up the details but just know this dramatic shift of your normally 24-hour circadian clock is extremely detrimental. As it turns out, constant access and FOMO are terrible bedside companions. In this millennium, the road to the blues is illuminated by smartphones and tablets.
THE SLEEPY BUDDHA’S 12 DEEDS OF DECOMPRESSING
At Cast, we seek out many sources for advice. Lucky for you, we’re on a first-name basis with the Sleepy Buddha. You may know Siddhartha’s 12 Deeds, but the Sleepy Buddha has his own. Introducing the 12 Deeds of Decompression:
- Establish a regular bedtime and relaxing bedtime routine. Yes, this includes incorporating a no-screen rule at least one hour before lights out. It’s OK, you can watch all your favorite late-night shows the next day because, well, technology!
- Only use your bed for sleeping. Avoid watching television in bed. Even reading an old-fashioned printed book in bed (they do exist) can disrupt the subliminal cues that tell the body it’s bedtime.
- If you can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes, get out of bed and go into another room. Do something relaxing, such as reading quietly with a dim light. Stay away from that pesky blue-light stuff. When you feel sleepy, get back in bed. Don’t delay your scheduled wake-up time to make up for lost sleep, however. The routine outweighs the one-day benefits of sleeping in.
- As with any wellness plan, get plenty of exercise. Build in up to 45 minutes of moderate exercise nearly every day and try some easy stretching exercises or yoga to relax your muscles and, most importantly, your mind.
- Whenever possible, schedule stressful or demanding tasks early in the day and less challenging activities later. This helps you wind down at the end of the day and takes care of the procrastination bug we’re all susceptible to.
- Be conscious of your eating. Don’t go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal right before bed. If you want a bedtime snack, keep it bland and light.
- Limit caffeine and call it quits by 2pm. At Cast, we’re fans of The Coffee Ethic’s Plandas Decaf in the afternoon because giving up coffee altogether is just wrong.
- Avoid too many fluids at night. This can keep nature from calling while you slumber. Which raises the question, “Why does nature have such terrible phone etiquette?”
- Avoid alcohol after dinner. Although a nice scotch (we’ll take the Balvenie Tun 1509 if you’re buying) can take the edge off after a long day, it wreaks havoc on the body’s restorative sleep functions.
- Get your feng shui on in the bedroom and gear up with some sleep science. Be sure your bed is comfortable and your bedroom is dark and quiet. Consider a sleep mask or earplugs. Tom Brady even has his own approved sleepwear gear! Seriously, this guy loves to sleep.
- If you need a nap, restrict it to 20 to 30 minutes in the early afternoon. If you can’t lie down where you are, the Aros Hoodie, with its inflatable hood, is magic for layovers but also perfect for a desk nap. Toss on some shades, and the boss doesn’t have to know. Here at Cast, we don’t mind—in fact, we encourage it!
- Practice relaxation breathing. Use slow breaths, especially when you exhale. Because there’s a hoodie for everything, we’re intrigued with the Vollebak Mindfulness Hoodie. You might get mistaken for a very calm Mighty Morphin Power Ranger so be prepared to answer if Zordon gets the band back together.
It’s easy and all too common to dismiss the benefits of sleep in the name of fitting in all the demands of our everyday lives, but don’t make this mistake. It’s not just about counting sheep anymore. With a little planning and maybe some cool gear too, getting the right quantity and quality of rest is totally doable. There’s science to it, but in the end we all know we’re better people when we get enough sleep. In the second part of our series, we’ll build on this foundation of rest and explore how routine is just as important for you as it is for toddlers.
BY SEAMUS MCKENZIE
11 • 12 • 2018