Learn more about the natural clock cycles.
Ayurvedic time cycle known as
The History of Time
Harvard Professor describes the dangers of Daylight Savings Time
Ayurvedic description of time cycles
"Sleep - are we really getting enough?"
As a society we are getting less and less sleep. In fact, it has almost become something to brag about – “I don’t need much sleep, I can get by on 6 hrs!” Are we short changing ourselves?
The average adult reports getting about seven to seven and a half hours sleep each night. Compare this to sleep patterns in 1910 before the electric light bulb, where the average person slept nine hours each night. We are depriving ourselves of at 60 to 90 minutes of sleep each day.
Dr. Stanley Coren, a neuropsychologist at the University of British Columbia, has estimated that thanks to our “high-tech, clock driven life style”, we are accumulating a sleep debt that averages 500 hours a year. We often downplay the effects of lack of sleep as just being a little tired. However, we all relate to being less efficient and more irritable.
Coren in his book “Sleep Thieves” notes that those who accumulate a large sleep debt experience “attentional lapses, reduced short-term memory capacity, impaired judgment and the occurrence of “microsleeps’”. You know the ones where you drift off in the car for 10 to 60 seconds. In a recent study in the States, over 100,000 accidents were caused by sleepy drivers.
According to Coren “one hour’s lost sleep out of eight results in a drop of one point of I.Q. and for every additional hour lost, you drop two points. And it accumulates. So if you cheat on sleep by two hours a night over a five-day week, you’ve lost 15 points”. In a matter of days, a person with an IQ of 100 can accumulate a sleep debt of 15 hours or more. "An IQ of 85 is borderline moron."
No wonder we feel so unproductive when we are sleep deprived! The good news is that we can do something about it.
Assess your sleep patterns, how much do you need to feel you are functioning at peak performance?
If you fall behind, a few consecutive nights of full uninterrupted sleep will help get you back on track
Based on biological rhythms, it is normal to feel sleep between 1 pm and 4 pm. Pay attention to your body and instead of reaching for a cup of java, take a short nap. Even 15 to 20 min of sleep can do much to restore your alertness and efficiency
Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening - it is a powerful stimulant that gets into your system in minutes, but takes 6 to 10 hours to dissipate
Keep a regular bedtime schedule
Establish a relaxing bed time routine like a hot bath or meditating
Turn off the TV and computer an hour before bed
David Posen in his book, The little book of stress relief, suggests you go to bed 30 min earlier for a few nights and see how you feel. Keep adding another 30 min until you wake up without your alarm, feeling refreshed.
The cost of sleep deprivation is too great for us to ignore. Tired people are less resilient and less tolerant of irritation and frustration. Find the right amount of sleep for you to ensure you are productive during your waking hours and can fall to sleep guilt free.
For more on sleep debt check out Coren, Stanley (1996). Sleep Thieves. New York: Free Press Paperbacks.
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