Sleep – Why get it & who needs it?

PT Blog   •   March, 2018

Sleep is something longed for, but can sometimes take a back burner to documentation, projects, resumes, and emails. The studies on sleep are so extensive and in favor of its need that it seems silly for us to forego this precious commodity. Just a few days ago Harvard Business Review posted an article on the correlation between senior executives and amount of sleep. The study looked at 35,000 leaders (along with conducting 250 interviews) and found that those in the highest positions received more sleep than their lower positioned counterparts, while 68% of non-executives slept only 5-7 hours/night. Another recent study on “mid-lifers” found that those who slept 7-9 hours without disturbed sleep “…were likely to live 20.4 years in good health and 14.3 years free from chronic diseases.”

So how do you make this feasible when you have deadlines working against you? Listed below are a couple of tips that I have found to be tried and true:

  • Find out how many hours of sleep your body best responds to. You can accomplish this by utilizing a sleep journal to determine your mood with a specific amount of sleep.
  • Utilize a smart alarm. Fitbit and apps like Sleep Cycle will allow you to wake up during your lightest stage of sleep. Sleep Cycle recommends you give a time frame for waking up (usually 30 minutes) in order to wake up at your lightest sleep stage possible.
  • Turn off the screens 1 hour before you head to bed. The light can affect melatonin levels; enough said.
  • Ensure your bedroom space is utilized for sleeping and not work, as your mind can associate certain items with activities and potentially reduce your ability to fall asleep.
  • Keep a notepad by your bed. Swimming thoughts can delay you getting to sleep. Write them down prior to lying down to allow the stress of tomorrow be taken away.
  • Avoid alcohol late as this can drastically effect REM sleep.
  • Meditate. Take a few minutes before bed to unwind. Whether this is accomplished through prayer, repeating a phrase or keyword, or focusing on your breathing this will allow you to prepare your mind and body for sleep.

If you have any tips on getting, or staying asleep, reach out to us on our Facebook or Twitter page. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Photo Credit: Jackman Chiu

Review Question

Increasing sleep from 6 to 7 hours results in how much improvement on test scores?


4.85% improvement on test scores or 1.7 points on a 20 point scale!


About the Author:

Ashley Theobald, D.P.T. – Ashley was born and raised in a small town in Alabama. She attended the University of South Alabama and was an advanced undergraduate student completing her Bachelor of Science degree in pre-professional health sciences in 2012. She then graduated with her doctorate in physical therapy in 2014. During her first year of PT school she met and married her husband, Ben. They moved to Nashville, TN where she worked for 3 years in an outpatient clinic full time and at Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital PRN. She is now working for ATI Physical Therapy full-time in Greenville, SC. She has been an avid health and fitness fan playing softball growing up, tennis in high school, and completing 2 half-marathons in college. She enjoys traveling overseas and has completed 2 short-term medical mission trips for physical therapy in the Dominican Republic (2013) and Haiti (2015), with intentions of returning yearly.
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