Wisdom of an “old lady”
My 92-year-old grandmother is really hip and cool, and doesn’t say much about what people do with their lives; “it’s up to them” is her attitude but the two things she has repeatedly told me over the years is to quit smoking and get a good night’s sleep.
To her a good night sleep means 8 hours. My usual response to her is “sleep is for old and dead people; I don’t have time in my life to waste sleeping.” She shakes her head and says, “If you don’t get enough rest, you might not live that long.”
Lifestyle and sleep deprivation
In June of 2000, I began my quest for higher education beginning with an AS, then a BS and now my MBA. I’ve got one more week to go before graduation and one of the things I’m looking forward to is enjoying a full nights rest. Much of the last 10 years I have been functioning on an average of 5 hours of sleep a night because I worked, had a house, a family, two businesses and I refused to give up my life just so I could go back and get my education. I decided to make time for school during the time I used to sleep but it caused me some problems.
Effects of living without enough sleep
After living this way for about 8 years, I realized that it was taking its toll. I was getting really stressed out at work, and people were complaining that I was too controlling, dominating and not tactful. I could feel it but I didn’t know what to do to fix it. I was short tempered, impatient, and my emotions were up and down, worse than a roller-coaster. After experiencing a heart palpitations that scared me, I went to the doctor.
My doctor said all was fine with my heart but he wanted me to quit smoking, limit my coffee intake to two cups a day instead of 12 or more, and get more sleep. My lifestyle choices were hurting me and my body was trying to tell me to slow down. I’m still battling the smoking aspect but I did change my mind-set about getting more sleep and drinking less coffee. Instead of a 2 am bedtime with a 7 am wake up, I made an honest attempt to get to bed before 1:00 am. I cut down my coffee consuption to about four cups a day.
About a week into my new routine, I did notice that I didn’t get upset as quickly, and that my smile came more easily. My boss also noticed and said I seemed more relaxed at work.
In reality I was even more stressed out because I had eliminated an hour of wake time and now I was trying to cram even more in my already over burdened day, yet I found I was working with people more easily and was irritated less just by adding another hour onto my sleep window. Ironically, cutting the corner on sleep was making my life more difficult than it needed to be. After about a month of living this way, I realized that it was much better on me and those around me when I got at least 6 hours of sleep.
This week on NPR, in an article titled, Want to Get Smarter, Sleep 10 Hours, the number of hours for sleep is making headlines again. In this article, Stanford University found out that students who got 10 hours of sleep improved their physical aptitude on the 40 and 20 yard dash improving their test scores by a tenth of a second. That is a huge deal in terms of physical performance. This evidence suggests that getting 10 hours of sleep will make kids more successful at school. (NPR)
Losing sleep now can have lasting effects on long term health
Sleep deprivation.com states “Sleep deprivation can have serious effects on your health in the form of physical and mental impairments. Inadequate rest impairs our ability to think, handle stress, maintain a healthy immune system and moderate our emotions. In fact, sleep is so important to our overall health that total sleep deprivation has been proven to be fatal: lab rats denied the chance to rest die within two to three weeks. (Sleep Deprivation)
Add another hour of sleep to your sleep window, if the rest of your life seems to be out of control
If you are going to college and trying to cram getting a higher education into an already jam packed life, consider your long term health and emtional stability, when cutting back on hours of sleep. If you notice it is getting harder and harder to get things accomplished, and you are drinking a lot of coffee to keep awake, consider adding another hour or two of sleep onto your sleep time and cut back on the caffeine. You will be amazed at how much more you can get done when you are well rested and not all wired out.
NPR, Want to Get Smarter, Sleep 10 Hours
An Old Lady’s experience