Sleep matters. You probably already know that, don't you? Somewhere in the back of your head, you may even have a folder (perhaps filed somewhere between "nutrition" and "stress") containing a few facts and figures about the importance of getting a good night's rest. Hopefully, you also stored away vital information about your biological clock after reading last week's post from our sleep expert, Hyungsoo Kim.
But learning about sleep in the abstract is not enough. If we're going to invest the time and effort it takes to improve our sleep, then we need to know what's at stake: We need to make sleep personal.
This week, LARK's Great Wake Up Program asked its participants to reflect on some specific aspect of their day that had been impacted by sleep -- or lack thereof -- over the course of the week. The goal is for them to pinpoint a personal metric; a significant and tangible outcome that they can measure against the quality of sleep they get each day.
By the end of the program, we want them to realize just how much this metric is affected by sleep, from their productivity at work to the state of their relationships.
Today we extend that question to you. What's your sleep metric? What part of your life suffers when you don't get quality rest and what suddenly thrives when you finally do?
Find one metric that is personally meaningful and store it in the back of your mind, or even jot down how it plays into your life each day. Then, observe how much it correlates with your quality of sleep from the previous night, or the collective few nights preceding each day.
Of course, these sleep metrics vary in scope and magnitude. On the more individual level, it could be how patient you are with your child or how tolerant you are of your boyfriend's strange quirks. Or perhaps you, like LARK founder Julia Hu, find that better sleep makes you less defensive and more likely to see the best in people. "On the way back from an exhausting conference, I thought the plane was run by the rudest people I'd ever met. And then I realized it was just me being hyper-sensitive because of my three-hour nights," she once noted when reflecting on her own sleep metric.
You may also find that the quality of your slumber affects your overall productivity -- how many sales you make at work, how alert you are in class, how many yards you can sprint. And it's not just in your head. LARK's resident sleep coach Cheri Mah has found over years of research that professional athletes are able to swim faster, jump higher and even break a few world records if they adopt a healthier sleep schedule over time.
Maybe your metric is simply how aware you are as you move through your day and whether or not you make good decisions. If you've ever felt yourself nodding off at a stoplight or arriving home without really knowing how you got there, then you know that driving while sleep deprived is just as dangerous as driving drunk.
At the end of the day, whether you are a parent or a college student, on the basketball court or sitting behind a wheel, it boils down to this: How well you sleep affects not only the quality of your life, but also those around you.
So as you begin to follow along the journey of the Great Wake Up Program participants and learn more about sleep from the LARK team, reflect about what's at stake in your own life. We often forget that the reasons we wake up in the morning are also the very same reasons we should get a good night's sleep.
If you want to join the Great Wake Up, we've teamed up with Urbandaddy to provide a free upgrade with 1 year of Personal Sleep Coaching when you get LARK. Wake your potential. http://perks.urbandaddy.com/national/lark.html