Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Admitting you need sleep is the first step

My son's alarm goes off at 7:35. I can hear him get up, turn the alarm off and then...silence. I know he has gone back to bed. At 8 am, I tentatively go into his room and gently wake him up. He is cranky and angry and tells me that he feels like he didn't sleep at all. I do my best to be gentle with him and coax him into the day, even though I desperately wish I could send him back to bed for a few more hours.

Even though he went to bed on time the night before, he experienced what we all do sometimes: A bad night's sleep.

I am traditionally considered to be a good sleeper. My darling husband has often marveled at how quickly I am able to fall asleep. And while I no longer maintain fitbit data on myself to prove it, I generally fall asleep fast and sleep fairly well, so that when my alarm goes off I feel relatively ready for the day.

On my bad sleep days, I can generally pinpoint the root cause to bad behavior the night before - staying up too late, or having caffeine later in the day than I should have or too many thoughts in my brain as I got ready for bed. Whatever the reason - I didn't get enough sleep.

I know a lot of people who like to talk about their sleep (it's the number one topic of conversation in my office in the morning). But what I am surprised at is that people seem to truly believe that they are getting enough sleep if they get at least 6 hours. Please believe me - and all the sleep scientists - when I write this: You are sleep deprived.

And if you want to know why that is a bad thing, here is a scary but very compelling article explaining what sleep deprivation does to our bodies.

So, what if we all just tried to get more sleep for a week and see if we could measure the benefits in our own lives? What if you woke up each morning in a better mood, feel more productive and less stressed out? Of course, it is easy to say, but harder to integrate. Some people have different circadian rhythms and feel more comfortable waking up late. Other people have tighter schedules in the morning to get to work/school on time and need to wake up early.

But, if you had the power to tweak your schedule in favor of more sleep...would you really do it?

How many hours of sleep do you get at night? Leave your magic number in the comments.

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