Sleep…Is It Really All that It’s Cracked Up To Be?

March 31, 2011 by
Filed under: Helpful Insights 

Sleep 1 300x203 Sleep…Is It Really All that It’s Cracked Up To Be?

Sleep. Now there’s a word that many peo­ple work­ing today wish they had more of. If you’re one such per­son who wishes they had more time to sleep (I’m rais­ing my hand here too), then know that you’re part of a grow­ing group that believes they just have to deal with not get­ting enough sleep.  With the ever increas­ing com­plex­ity of people’s lives over the last few decades, it may appear that we are just doomed to putting up with feel­ing a lit­tle tired all the time. But how true is that? Do we really have to deal with not get­ting the amount of sleep that we need? Can we really learn to func­tion on less sleep than we may actu­ally need?  How much sleep is enough? Is how sleepy we feel a good judge of whether or not we are get­ting enough sleep?

You Can’t Han­dle the Truth!  (Jack Nicol­son as Col. Jes­sup in “A Few Good Men”)

How do we know if we are get­ting the min­i­mum amount of sleep in order to func­tion? Accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Sleep Med­i­cine (AASM), the fol­low­ing are signs that you are def­i­nitely not get­ting enough sleep:

  • You have a hard time pay­ing atten­tion dur­ing meetings.
  • You feel tired and lack energy dur­ing the day.
  • You are unmo­ti­vated and have trou­ble “get­ting going.”
  • You need to use an alarm clock to wake up on time in the morning.
  • You are irri­ta­ble, grumpy or lose your tem­per easily.
  • You start to doze off when you are dri­ving a car. (DANGEROUS!!!)

A poll con­ducted in 2005 by the National Sleep Foun­da­tion showed Amer­i­cans aver­aged about 6.9 hours of sleep per night. This rep­re­sents a drop of about two hours per night since the 19th cen­tury, one hour per night over the past 50 years, roughly 15 to 25 min­utes per night since 2001. In another study done at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, inves­ti­ga­tors found that sub­jects who slept four to six hours a night for four­teen con­sec­u­tive nights showed sig­nif­i­cant deficits in cog­ni­tive per­for­mance equiv­a­lent to going with­out sleep for up to three days in a row.

How would you like to go to work (or lead a group, or attend a busi­ness and/or social func­tion for that mat­ter) on the equiv­a­lent of not hav­ing gone to sleep for two or three days!?!

So What Can We Do?

The world we live in is an excit­ing and won­der­ful place to be. The means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, travel, the shar­ing of ideas and images has never been as easy and read­ily avail­able as it is today. Because of this, it’s also a very fast and com­plex world that demands more and more of our time and energy. In order to func­tion well we all need to rest well.

Sleep hygiene is defined as “the con­trol­ling of all behav­ioral and envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors that pre­cede sleep and may inter­fere with sleep.” It’s the prac­tice of fol­low­ing guide­lines in an attempt to ensure more rest­ful, effec­tive sleep which can pro­mote day­time alert­ness and help treat or avoid cer­tain kinds of sleep dis­or­ders. Trou­ble sleep­ing and day­time sleepi­ness can be indi­ca­tions of poor sleep hygiene (Wikipedia).

Below are some excel­lent tips (pro­vided by AASM) for get­ting a bet­ter night’s rest:

  1. Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
    If you are not sleepy at bed­time, then do some­thing else. Read a book, lis­ten to soft music or browse through a mag­a­zine. Find some­thing relax­ing, but not stim­u­lat­ing, to take your mind off of wor­ries about sleep. This will relax your body and dis­tract your mind.
  2. If you are not asleep after 20 min­utes, then get out of the bed.
    Find some­thing else to do that will make you feel relaxed. If you can, do this in another room. Your bed­room should be where you go to sleep. It is not a place to go when you are bored. Once you feel sleepy again, go back to bed.
  3. Begin rit­u­als that help you relax each night before bed.
    This can include such things as a warm bath, light snack or a few min­utes of reading.
  4. Get up at the same time every morn­ing.
    Do this even on week­ends and holidays.
  5. Get a full night’s sleep on a reg­u­lar basis.
    Get enough sleep so that you feel well-rested nearly every day.
  6. Avoid tak­ing naps if you can.
    If you must take a nap, try to keep it short (less than one hour). Never take a nap after 3 p.m.
  7. Keep a reg­u­lar sched­ule.
    Reg­u­lar times for meals, med­ica­tions, chores, and other activ­i­ties help keep the inner body clock run­ning smoothly.
  8. Don’t read, write, eat, watch TV, talk on the phone, or play cards in bed.           

  9. Do not have any caf­feine after lunch.           

  10. Do not have a beer, a glass of wine, or any other alco­hol within six hours of your bedtime.           

  11. Do not have a cig­a­rette or any other source of nico­tine before bedtime.           

  12. Do not go to bed hun­gry, but don’t eat a big meal near bed­time either.           

  13. Avoid any tough exer­cise within six hours of your bed­time.
    You should exer­cise on a reg­u­lar basis, but do it ear­lier in the day. (Talk to your doc­tor before you begin an exer­cise program.)
  14. Avoid sleep­ing pills, or use them cau­tiously.
    Most doc­tors do not pre­scribe sleep­ing pills for peri­ods of more than three weeks. Do not drink alco­hol while tak­ing sleep­ing pills.
  15. Try to get rid of or deal with things that make you worry.
    If you are unable to do this, then find a time dur­ing the day to get all of your wor­ries out of your sys­tem. Your bed is a place to rest, not a place to worry.
  16. Make your bed­room quiet, dark, and a lit­tle bit cool.
    An easy way to remem­ber this: it should remind you of a cave. While this may not sound roman­tic, it seems to work for bats. Bats are cham­pion sleep­ers. They get about 16 hours of sleep each day. Maybe it’s because they sleep in dark, cool caves.

Sleep 2 Sleep…Is It Really All that It’s Cracked Up To Be?Have you ever gone through a day wish­ing that you had got­ten more sleep?

What are some ways you relax at the end of the day (let’s keep it clean here. This is a fam­ily friendly blog 😎 )?

What are your thoughts on how much sleep we are or aren’t get­ting today?

Comments

6 Intelligent Opinions, Leave Yours on Sleep…Is It Really All that It’s Cracked Up To Be?

  1. Paulene on Sat, 5th May 2012 1:00 pm
  2. Hiya Gil, I enjoyed your great arti­cle on Sleep. Great job and great blog. I cant wait to read more, keep em comin! Paulene

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Gil Pizano on Wed, 23rd May 2012 10:51 pm
  4. Thanks Pau­lene!

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Benjamin35 on Fri, 22nd Nov 2013 3:47 pm
  6. New types of cig­a­rettes and tobacco threaten to addict a younger demo­graphic. Gary Brown said he was able to kick a 50 year, two pack a day habit, using E-cigs.e-cigs

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  7. Jess and Brandon on Fri, 12th Dec 2014 7:05 am
  8. Great post. I really enjoyed your great arti­cle on Sleep.Thank you for shar­ing it with us.
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    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. James - Nicotine River on Fri, 16th Jan 2015 3:32 am
  10. Hi, Nice arti­cle I enjoyed your great arti­cle on Sleep. Thanks for shar­ing this article.

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. runa on Mon, 19th Jan 2015 5:04 am
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