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Ask the experts: Stay motivated by getting enough sleep

By Virginia Bridges
vbridges@newsobserver.com

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Many entrepreneurs work around the clock, sacrificing sleep to meet deadlines or finish proposals.

Some even believe tiredness demonstrates their commitment to their business, said Marie-Josée Shaar, author, founder and owner of Smarts and Stamina, a Raleigh company that offers wellness speeches and workshops, and continuing education for coaches and wellness professionals.

“When I hear someone brag about their sleep deprivation, I don’t conclude that they are busy, needed and successful,” Shaar said. “What I really think is that they are temporarily and reversibly mentally impaired, but too groggy to realize it.”

Here are Shaar’s edited comments on the importance of sleep.

Each night, most adults need between seven-and-a-half and eight-and-a-half hours of sleep, which helps the body perform a number of important physical and mental functions.

Sleep increases serotonin, the neurotransmitter that facilitates self-discipline, and increases dopamine, which makes us feel more energetic, capable and motivated to persevere when facing difficulties, Shaar said.

Enough sleep leads to a decrease in cortisol, a stress hormone that can make business owners feel impatient and irritable, cause insomnia and high-sugar, high-fat food cravings.

The brain uses sleep time to consolidate the day’s learning and memories. Sleep adequacy also impacts decision-making as it increases the ability to receive, process and act on information, Shaar said.

Those who are pulling all-nighters for the sake of important deadlines should consider taking a nap.

A 45-minute nap can give as much as an extra six hours of productive time, said Dr. William Dement, author of “The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep.”

Bridges: 919-829-8917; Twitter: @virginiabridges
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