Sleep: for mere mortals or wimps?

sleeping babyHappy Daylight Savings Time! Oh yeah, springing forward and losing an hour of sleep is not a cause for celebration. Resetting clocks around the house is easier than resetting our body clocks. It’s like having jet lag without the fun of traveling. Most Americans are already running a ZZZ deficit. People even brag about how little sleep they can get by with. Not me and certainly not mothers of newborns and small children. My younger granddaughter has been curtailing her naps, much to the chagrin of my daughter-in-law.  At 18 months, Allison has limited exposure to TV or computer screens and no smartphone, so that’s not her excuse for staying awake.  And it’s not too much light keeping her awake on Kodiak Island, Alaska.

Recently at an event, a woman talked about her packed schedule and exclaimed, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” It makes me wonder if her sleep routine will result in bringing that outcome sooner. In a Coursera class I took, Learning How to Learn, the lesson on sleep emphasized how important sleep is to our health and mental acuity. Toxins that build up while we are awake clear during sleep so our brains repair themselves. Sleep disturbances are even linked to dementia. The disrupted sleep attributable to Daylight Saving Time has health and safety ramifications. Accidents and heart attacks increase. The grogginess effects concentration and task performance, which is why flight crews have mandatory crew rest.

How much sleep do we really need? The National Sleep Foundation provides answers and a chart by age categories with recommended hours of sleep per day:

If you take nothing else away from reading this, pay attention to these three sleep tips:

  • Set an alarm for bedtime, so you don’t get engrossed in browsing the internet or watching a program.
  • Include a screen fast in your nightly routine by turning off technology. Light emitting devices can wreak havoc on sleep.
  • Get enough sleep. Check out the sleep foundation chart to see what your sleep number is.

My college used bugle calls to announce events, like taps and reveille. One bugle required us to be in our rooms where we could study until lights out at 1 AM. With wake-up in order to be at mandatory 6:30 AM formation, the schedule attempted to encourage sleep. If you don’t have a bugle signaling bedtime and wake-up, you need to create your own discipline. Remember your productivity, performance, alertness, optimism, and current and future health, including weight, depend on getting enough sleep.

For interesting facts, see the Washington Post column on 5 myths about daylight saving time

IndexCardCure™ solutions, observations & opinions: at the intersection of simple + effective. 

© Joan S Grey, 10 March 2015

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