Saturday, March 28, 2015

Positive Change - 4 Ways to prepare for a road trip to new opportunities...

Change is the one constant in each of our lives, but it is often a challenge for some rather than others. So, how can people be prepared for change in their lives and work, so they'll take advantage of the unexpected opportunities?  Just like going on a trip to a new destination, people have to see change as the vehicle that creates the possibility to reach that great destination they hope will result in enjoyment and relaxation. 

Choosing a Destination

The first step in taking any trip is choosing where you want to go.  This means that you have to make a conscious decision to plan your trip, and understand that you may have to be flexible on the way if you're going to enjoy the journey.  Just like getting in the car for a long road trip, we don't get moving in life without taking the first step forward.  Therefore, it is imperative to understand without action we won't move out of any dissatisfaction that may be happening in our lives.  We have to be willing to hop in that cramped hot little car, and remember that it's going to lead to better opportunities that are waiting.

It's time for a vacation  

Before many of us make decisions or accept change in our lives we want to know the effects it may cause.  To help start the process of change we need to start planning for our trip, and remember that taking steps forward in life will only occur when we remember why we need change.  Therefore, think about the positive benefits that will result from choosing to change.  Start looking at the map and plan the route you're going to take to lead to that amazing destination.  With a plan you'll be successful because it's like having your GPS that creates certainty and trust because you know it will lead you to your chosen destination.    

Packing your suitcase

These three words cause me to cringe when I think about our family trips.  Not so much for me, but for the other wonderful ladies and co-travelers in my life.  Every time we prepare to take a trip I wince thinking about the long night ahead of me because my hopes of packing the car early quickly comes crashing down.  I soon realize that I'm not the one who's controlling our family's schedule. Over the years I've learned that the element of packing is just part of the process that eventually results in a fun vacation with those I love.  The mindset we choose will determine the enjoyment we experience on our way to better things ahead.

Let's play slug-bug 

A childhood memory that creates nostalgia.  It also reminds me of the numerous long trips on the in the back of the car with my brother getting pounded in the arm as that little German insect of a car went by us on the highway. We laughed through the pain we caused each other because it made the long hours go by quickly, and saved my Dad from being questioned constantly about our destination. In the same way, change in our lives needs to create an element of excitement for people.  It has to be about a new adventure that promises fun, new sights and sounds, and the opportunity to improve as people through the process.  When we finally realize that change is the only way we can invite new possibilities for success into our lives, then we'll be ready to get in that car that's going to speed off to great destinations that will result in new amazing opportunities for our success.

"Success seems to be connected with action.  
Successful people keep moving.  
They make mistakes, but they don't quit."
Conrad Hilton

"Success isn't a path you find, it's a trail you blaze."
Robert Brault

 Art of Nursing 2.0

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Embracing Servant Leadership - The 3 C's to create an impact with those you lead...

How often have you come across challenges with the bosses and managers in your life as an employee?  Have you been exposed to someone you've considered a leader?  What was the difference that elevated their role from that of an administrative supervisor to a person who created an impact as a leader?  The act of serving others should be foremost in the minds of people who want to truly lead others.  This concept has been present throughout human history that is evidenced by the following:
Servant leadership can be found in many religious texts, though the philosophy itself transcends any particular religious tradition. In the Christian tradition, this passage from the Gospel of Mark is often quoted in discussions of servant leadership:

"42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be servant of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45

Chanakya wrote, in the 4th century BCE, in his book Arthashastra:

"the king [leader] shall consider as good, not what pleases himself but what pleases his subjects [followers]" "the king [leader] is a paid servant and enjoys the resources of the state together with the people."

Servant leadership is an ancient philosophy. There are passages that relate to servant leadership in the Tao Te Ching, attributed to Lao-Tzu, who is believed to have lived in China sometime between 570 BCE and 490 BCE:

The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware. Next comes one whom they love and praise. Next comes one whom they fear. Next comes one whom they despise and defy.  When you are lacking in faith, Others will be unfaithful to you.  The Sage is self-effacing and scanty of words. When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, All the people say, ‘We ourselves have achieved it!’

Servant leadership is both a leadership philosophy and set of leadership practices. Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid.” By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.(

Even though this concept has been present throughout human history, it began to develop more attention in the 1970's when the term was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf  in an essay he wrote about leadership:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”
“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“
Sadly very few of us have had the privilege of experiencing this type of leadership in our professional careers.  Most often people are exposed to negative styles of leadership rather than having a positive experience.  Here are both some positive and negative styles that are most prevalent today :

A laissez-faire leader lacks direct supervision of employees and fails to provide regular feedback to those under his supervision. Highly experienced and trained employees requiring little supervision fall under the laissez-faire leadership style. However, not all employees possess those characteristics. This leadership style hinders the production of employees needing supervision. The laissez-faire style produces no leadership or supervision efforts from managers, which can lead to poor production, lack of control and increasing costs.

The autocratic leadership style allows managers to make decisions alone without the input of others. Managers possess total authority and impose their will on employees. No one challenges the decisions of autocratic leaders. Countries such as Cuba and North Korea operate under the autocratic leadership style. This leadership style benefits employees who require close supervision. Creative employees who thrive in group functions detest this leadership style.

Often called the democratic leadership style, participative leadership values the input of team members and peers, but the responsibility of making the final decision rests with the participative leader. Participative leadership boosts employee morale because employees make contributions to the decision-making process. It causes them to feel as if their opinions matter. When a company needs to make changes within the organization, the participative leadership style helps employees accept changes easily because they play a role in the process. This style meets challenges when companies need to make a decision in a short period.

Managers using the transactional leadership style receive certain tasks to perform and provide rewards or punishments to team members based on performance results. Managers and team members set predetermined goals together, and employees agree to follow the direction and leadership of the manager to accomplish those goals. The manager possesses power to review results and train or correct employees when team members fail to meet goals. Employees receive rewards, such as bonuses, when they accomplish goals.

The transformational leadership style depends on high levels of communication from management to meet goals. Leaders motivate employees and enhance productivity and efficiency through communication and high visibility. This style of leadership requires the involvement of management to meet goals. Leaders focus on the big picture within an organization and delegate smaller tasks to the team to accomplish goals.(

With all these styles to choose from why should managers or supervisors look to becoming a servant leader to have a greater impact with those they lead?  A servant leader looks at those in their ranks with a different perspective that is encapsulated by using the 3 C's of Servant Leadership:

Compassion - As a servant leader people must see those they lead as another human being with the same needs and challenges they face in life.  They have to look at the big picture, and remember that life is greater than what exists within the walls of the office or confines of the cubicle.  When a leader gets to know those in their ranks they're able to uncover diamonds that may have been in the ruff.  They don't need to know every detail of that person's life, but can show true sincerity by caring about the future personal and professional growth of those they lead.  Then the servant leader is able to be both a counselor and mentor focused on trying to help those they lead achieve their potential. This result only occurs by leaders who are willing to sacrifice their needs to be present with their staff.  

Collaboration - When leaders take the time with staff the relationship changes from us and them to colleagues dedicated to achieving the same goal.  Servant leadership is grounded in understanding that those you lead possess the knowledge and skills that can create success for you and your organization.  What motivates a servant leader is the desire to achieve the best outcome for all involved without any need for receiving the recognition. 

Conviction - A servant leader is able to step out of the spotlight, and allow their staff to take control of a project with complete confidence that they will achieve success.  These actions occur because they come from a leader who possesses intrinsic beliefs and convictions about serving others.  Servant leaders believe that they are in their position to enhance the lives of others.  When leaders are driven by the desire to create an impact through serving others then great things can happen.  Cultures can be changed within companies by embracing the contributions of their staff, policies can be created that ensure justice is delivered to those working for the organization, and compassionate direction can be offered that inspires people to contribute by giving their best each day. 

Aspiring to be a servant leader means going against the traditional leadership styles embraced by organizations, and pushing the envelope to ensure that positive change occurs by creating a culture of service.  It can be a challenging road to take, but what a difference it can make.  What would your company look like if it was filled with servant leaders?  How would it feel to be motivated by meeting the needs of others each day?  If you're leader then I encourage to look at how can strive to be a servant leader.  Start by focusing on those you lead, and serve by meeting their needs.

“Serving others prepares you to lead others.”

Jim George

Thoughts for the Day - Dealing with the black clouds in your life...

Does it ever seem like you have a black cloud that just seems to have you in it's sights?  This last year has been that way much of the time for my family.  Just when you thought you were through the storm, another small gale blows into your life.  When these things continue to occur it can be challenging to remember that storms are a temporary events that impact our lives.  Sometimes you need to focus on dancing in the rain versus just surviving the storm.  Here are some quotes I hope will help both of us today to have fun jumping in the puddles that are created by the storms in our lives.  

Take care, Dave.

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”
Ashley Smith

“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”
William W. Purkey 

 “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
Helen Keller

 “What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.”
Maya Angelou, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now 

“Peace begins with a smile..”
Mother Teresa

 Art of Nursing 2.0

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Decoding da Vinci - 4 Ways to Increase Your Impact on the World By following His footsteps...

Do you believe we live in a perfect world?  Are there things you'd like to see change?  Would you like to increase your impact in the world?  The Renaissance (from the French word meaning "re-birth from the French word meaning "re-birth") was a cultural movement spanning (depending on which cultural historians you believe) from the 14th to the 17th centuries.  Artists, writers, sculptors, musicians and architects began to look back to Greek and Roman times, and seek out ideas and inspiration from ancient texts.  The changes in the Renaissance were social and political as well as intellectual.  The Renaissance "re-birth" pertained to a return to the classical culture, which was the inspiration for numerous inventions and improvements that have benefited our modern day society.  One of the most famous influential people during this time period was Leonardo da Vinci.


Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (Italian: [leoˈnardo da ˈvintʃi]; 15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) was an Italian polymath, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographerbotanist, and writer. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.[1] Hisgenius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of "unquenchable curiosity" and "feverishly inventive imagination".[2] (

Why is it so important to focus on da Vinci if we want to become people who can drive changes in our own lives and the world?   Leonardo da Vinci was an extremely accomplished person who possessed the unique ability to master broad topics of knowledge and their technical skills.  This uncommon talent has been recognized in our history books by coining the phrase "Renaissance".  Which means a man or woman who command a breadth of understanding and abilities in both the arts and sciences.  It is for this reason that decoding da Vinci is important to develop a template we can each use to become extraordinary in our lives.

When we look at the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci we can start putting down the stones that will help to build a pathway achieve similar success in impacting the world.  Da Vinci impacted the world by showing us 4 fundamental ways that we can use to also impact our surroundings:

Be an Observer - We know that Leonardo da Vinci was one of the greatest observers in history which was proven by the masterpieces that he created.  Why is being an observer so important to creating a significant impact in the world? If we look at the definition to observe it states, "to see, watch, perceive, or notice; to regard with attention, especially so as to see or learn something".  What made him so unique was his ability to see what was invisible to others.  The slope of angle, the reaction of a person, the impact of an action.  Being observant offers many benefits:
It will offer you an amazing insight into how people think, react, and behave in general. This could have startling revelations in your work, no matter what you do for a living. - See more at:
  • Provides insights into how people think, react, and behave
  • Helps you gain an understanding into how mechanical things function
  • It will help you appreciate the people around, and improve your social skills which will help you impact others positively.   
  • How can you improve your abilities to observe:
    • Take an art class, be more aware of your own actions, listen more intently, watch people, and take time to focus by meditating.

Be a Learner - Life is a continual process of being exposed to new information and experiences.  Much like da Vinci we need to have a burning desire to increase our knowledge and understanding about the world.  By choosing to be a learner you'll be exposed to new ideas that will give you the ability to connect with more people, and increase your imagination to come up with new concepts to improve the world.  Learning new things also expands your mind and can prove beneficial as we move through life.
  • Being a learner helps you develop your abilities
  • Opens your mind
  • Increases your wisdom
  • Improves your adaptability
  • Provides access to more fulfillment in life
  • Offers opportunities to develop relationships with others.   
  • How can you improve your abilities to learn:
    • Take an online class, try reading a book, learn another language, do brain games, and participate in thought-provoking conversations with others.
Be a Catalyst - The purpose of looking around and learning is to utilize experiences to impact others in a positive way, but you'll never do that without action.  Therefore, being a catalyst means taking risks by challenging yourself to get out of your comfort zone.  We only find success or create an impact when we're in motion.  Are you in motion in your life?  Are there things you've wanted to do that you've been putting off?  Now is the time to act, and use your talents to make a difference.  Start thinking about what makes you special and unique.  Every person has talents or "gifts" that they can put into action without much effort.  What is your gift that could be used to benefit others?  
  • Being a catalyst will help you show others how choosing to make positive changes can result in personal growth, improve the ability to handle challenging situations, and opens the doors for new opportunities to enter your life.  
  • How can you improve your abilities to be a catalyst:
    • Put an idea out there and see what happens, share your talent with others publicly, join a volunteer organization that matches your gifts and interests, make yourself available to others that could use a helping hand.

Be a Giver - The reaction that comes from being a catalyst is that you have the ability to benefit others through your actions.  When we look at Leonardo da Vinci we see someone that used his perceptions, talents, and imagination to create things that have significantly changed the world forever.  If you desire to make an impact in this world you have to look for ways to increase your generosity to others.  Giving to others provides as much of a benefit to the giver as the receiver.  It can be taking the time to sit with a sick friend, listening to someone important in your life, getting involved in your community, or just providing a smile to those who cross your path each day.
Leonardo da Vinci is thought to be one of the most intelligent people to ever lived.  Making an impact is truly about having a plan on how you want to create a legacy.  If you're a person who is driven by a desire to improve the world and the lives of others, then start following da Vinci's footsteps.  Having the code to his success includes starting to teach yourself to take the time to look at the world with an artist's eye, challenging yourself to learn something new every month, taking action by looking for ways to show others how to take risks, and using your talents to benefit the lives of others.  If you implement these 4 ways that da Vinci used to impact the world, you will also leave a trail for others to follow.

"The road to success is not a path you find, 

but a trail you blaze."

Robert Brault


Art of Nursing 2.0

Friday, March 6, 2015

Holding the Hourglass – 3 Steps Nurses Can Take to Support End of Life Discussions

Not very many people have an hourglass in their home any more, but for some people as children it represented a fascinating object they watched as the granules drained out into the other side.  Life is similar to that hourglass because the moments of our lives continually drain like the sand, and eventually result in our passing.  Death has become more of a challenging subject to discuss in our culture throughout the decades, and now is often treated like the elephant in the room.  For those of us who call ourselves nurses, it can be something we encounter often in our careers.  Some nurses struggle with the topic of death, and experience angst at having to care for a patient at the end of life.  In order to provide empathetic patient-centered care, nurses need to be comfortable participating in conversations with patients who have end of life needs.  Therefore, it’s imperative that nurses take these 3 steps that will help to initiate end of life discussions with the patients in their care.

  1. Seeing the picture – Developing Awareness and Advocacy
What do you see?  In this picture there is an old lady and a young lady.  Just like looking at this picture we can see different things in the patients that are entrusted to our care.  The first step in being successful at approaching end of life discussions is being aware the need exists. 
She was an 89 year old little lady who came in through the Emergency department complaining of back pain, and feeling like she couldn’t catch her breath.  As the team started the work her up for chest pain, she received all the customary evidence-based interventions.  Baby aspirin, IV, EKG, oxygen, and lab work.  When the results came back it was conclusive that she had experienced a cardiac arrest precipitated by a blocked artery.  After speaking with her and her family the decision was made by the surgeon to do bypass surgery.  She was stabilized with medications through the night, and was the first case in the morning.  After she and her family said their tearful goodbyes she was whisked off to surgery.  An hour later the surgeon came out to the waiting room hesitantly, and began to share the news that their mother (“the patient”) had a massive stroke during surgery.  She was now on life support, and sent to the ICU.  Her family was now confronted with the challenging decision about removing her life support or watching and waiting.  Not long after she returned to the ICU her family made the choice to stop the lifesaving interventions, and allowed her to pass away naturally.
This picture is one that many of us have seen all too often.  Chronically ill patients like this come through the hospital doors without truly being offered the care they need or what is appropriate for their condition.  As the nurse caring for these patients, you need to be able to identify these patients in your care.  That means being aware of the trajectory of their disease progression, and the realities of what can actually be done for the patient.  You may not be the one to initiate that conversation or provide the news concerning the prognosis, but as a nurse you must understand the process to be prepared to have end of life discussions with your patients.  Was there another alternative in this case?  Is this what the patient and family wanted?

  1. Understanding their Story – Listening to their heart
At the bedside or in any discussion with a patient, nurses must listen to what patients are saying.  It is no different dealing with patients that have a terminal prognosis.  It is important at these times to be acutely aware and tuned in to hear what their heart is saying.  All people have the issue of death in common, and it is often a theme that is natural for people to ponder.  Thoughts that make people think about how it will happen, who will be there when it occurs, or how will it feel?  These are a normal progression of thoughts for people facing mortality.  As nurses we have to be ready for these conversations, and approach them with an empathetic ear.  We have to be willing to put aside our own personal judgments and feelings, so we can be with them in the moment as they start processing their emotions about their death.
A process where they are learning to cope with the challenge they face.  This process was first famously outlined by Swiss Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, and was inspired by her work with terminally ill patients.  Motivated by the lack of curriculum in medical schools on the subject of death and dying, Kübler-Ross examined death and those faced with it at the University of Chicago's medical school. Kübler-Ross' project evolved into a series of seminars which, along with patient interviews and previous research, became the foundation for her book… The stages, popularly known by the acronym DABDA, include:
  1. Denial — One of the first reactions is Denial, wherein the survivor imagines a false, preferable reality.
  2. Anger — When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, it becomes frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; '"Who is to blame?"; "Why would God let this happen?".
  3. Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Other times, they will use anything valuable against another human agency to extend or prolong the life. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.
  4. Depression — "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die soon so what's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?"
    During the fourth stage, the individual becomes saddened by the certainty of death. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.
  5. Acceptance — "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."
    In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. People dying may precede the survivors in this state, which typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable condition of emotions.

Working effectively with people at the end of life requires an understanding of this process, and being able to listen for the cues to where the person is in their journey.  By knowing the stages you can recognize the emotions the person is displaying, and use that information to initiate a conversation that matches their readiness.  After establishing a trusting dialogue you can be the supportive caregiver that encourages them to make their wishes known to those involved in their care.  Having access to this information is necessary for introducing resources to the patient and family that will support achieving their goals of care by utilizing a patient-centered approach.

Delivering Hope - How an explanation creates a comfortable journey
Patient-centered care according to the IOM (Institute of Medicine) is “Care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions."  Not only must nurses understand their patient’s end of life needs, but they must be knowledgeable concerning the resources available to support their care.  Nurses can explain how resources are available that can address their physical, emotional, and psychological needs. 
Whether you’re in the hospital at the bedside or in the community a nurse’s main role is to provide information to support the understanding of the people they serve.  The end of life journey is difficult for any family because of the realization they experience when they consider the loss of the person they love.  As nurses we can support them in this struggle by painting the picture of the journey.  What will the progression of the disease look like, how will they feel, and what can be done to keep them comfortable?  Explaining that when they hold their loved one’s hand in may be cold or the color may change, they may sound differently when they breathe, or they may say things that don’t make sense.  It’s important for the nurse to normalize the process, and to encourage those involved in their care to express their feelings to the patient. 
Dealing with patients at the end of life can test our personal strength as individuals, but being there to support patients and families at such a fragile time in life is an honor.  Therefore, don’t shy away from having discussions with patients at the end of life.  As their nurse see their need, listen to their story, and deliver the hope they need by being that caring presence that ensures they have a comfortable journey. 

 This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at

Nurse Blog Carnival

Art of Nursing 2.0

Click here to visit Living Sublime Wellness.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thoughts for the Day - What type of Leadership is Best???

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson 

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
Ronald Reagan 

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Peter F. Drucker, Essential Drucker: Management, the Individual and Society  

 “A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Art of Nursing 2.0

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Thoughts for the Day - Rising Above the Stress in Your Life...

 Art of Nursing 2.0

 “You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”

 “A positive attitude may not solve all our problems but that is the only option we have if we want to get out of problems.
-Subodh Gupta author "Stress Management a holistic approach -5 steps plan".” 

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Mahatma Gandhi 

“It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”
Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People  

“I love those who can smile in trouble...”
Leonardo da Vinci 

Are You Getting the Sleep You Need? By Dr. Wayne Anderson

Don’t Underestimate the Value of Sleep.  Sleep is one of the cornerstones of optimal health, but its importance is often underestimated.  For many, late nights bleed into early mornings over and over again to the point that a good night’s sleep is nothing but an unachievable dream. A new study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society has brought the importance of sleep back to the top of medical conversation. The study linked a lack of sleep and an overabundance of sleep to memory problem in older women.  In a press release connected to the study, study leader Elizabeth Devore said, “Our findings suggest that getting an ‘average’ amount of sleep, seven hours per day, may help maintain memory in later life and that clinical interventions based on sleep therapy should be examined for the prevention of [mental] impairment.”  In fact, the study goes as far as to suggest that undersleepers and oversleepers, when compared to women of the same age that got seven to eight hours of sleep each night, were mentally two years older.  These findings are not yet definitive, but they add to an already large body of knowledge that supports the idea that getting the recommended amount of sleep is critical to your health.

The Chief Medical Editor of the Harvard Health Blog, in his analysis of Devore’s sleep study, summarizes some of the key consequences of lost sleep:  “Previous research has linked poor sleep with higher risks of heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, and depression. How might sleep affect memory? People who are persistently sleep deprived are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, and narrowed blood vessels. Each of these can decrease blood flow inside the brain. Brain cells need a lot of oxygen and sugar, so blood flow problems could affect their ability to work properly.”

Though we are still learning about the far-reaching importance of sleep, we already know that a lack of restorative sleep leads us into a non-sick state prematurely and, like unhealthy eating and a lack of movement, degrades our health.  Sleep is your body’s way of restoring organ function, stabilizing chemical imbalance, refreshing areas of the brain that control mood and behavior, and improving performance. During sleep, your brain replenishes spent nutrients and repairs circuitry, rearranging your experiences much like a computer rearranges data.
To assess the quality of your sleep at a glance, consider the following questions:
Do you…

Wake up tired in the morning?
Need a nap in the afternoon?
Fall asleep watching television?
Find yourself sleepy after lunch?
Have difficulty falling asleep?
Have difficulty staying asleep?
Drink several cups of coffee or energy drinks to stay awake?

If you answered “yes” to many of these questions, don’t worry. You are not alone. In 2006, an
Institute of Medicine report found that between 50 and 70 million people in the U.S. are not getting enough sleep. To help you escape this statistic, here are some quick tips to incorporate into your daily life (reference page 217 of Dr. A’s Habits of Health for a complete guide to revamping your sleep):

Get out of bed when your alarm goes off and limit your in-bed activities to train your mind to always associate sleep with your bed.
Limit your caffeine intake, especially late in the day and within hours of your bedtime.
Decrease stimulation from electronics and other sources of bright light at least 30 minutes prior to trying to fall asleep.
Avoid exercising within two hours of your bed time to help your body’s natural process for releasing the chemicals that induce sleep.
Set a sleep schedule and stick to it all week, including on weekends.

Sleep tight!
About Dr. Wayne Andersen
Dr. Wayne Andersen is a NY Times Bestselling Author, Speaker and Leader in creating Optimal Health.To learn more about this topic or how you can work with Dr. Andersen to create optimal health in your life, email