Do you really need all that sleep?

From Natural Awakenings, August 2012 issue:

“Less Sleep Means Lower Grades: Research presented in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the 25th anniversary meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, suggests that poor sleep hygiene is associated with a lower grade-point average, both in high school and college. This can be prevented, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, by cultivating habits and behaviors that promote healthy sleep, such as establishing a relaxing bedtime routine and avoiding ingesting caffeine during the afternoon and at night.”


Moreover, it has long-been observed that sleep deprivation makes it difficult to maintain stable performance for more than a few minutes. One study concluded restricting optimal sleep time will have several drawbacks, including but not limited to:
neurobehavior deficits:
lapses of attention, slowed working memory, reduced cognitive throughput, depressed mood, perseveration of thought
physiological consequences:
adverse effects on endocrine functions, metabolic and inflammatory responses

So yes — You really do need to catch all those zzz’s if you want to be at your best!

It makes sense, looking back, when I didn’t get enough sleep and had 7 am classes, I was so tired and grumpy I could barely focus on what we were studying. I remember focusing on how tired I was and wondering when I’d get a chance to take a nap.

I know a lot of my classmates stocked up on Rockstars, Red Bulls, 5 Hour Energy, etc…treating their symptoms & creating new problems rather than focusing on fixing the root cause. In fact, I tried the whole Sugar – Free Rockstar ordeal…until it backfired one early 4 am morning when I woke up to get some last minute studying in before an organic chemistry test. I got food poisoning from the fruity drink! Last time I had one of those things…

Here are some ways that helped me get a regular routine in my undergrad days…

Make bed time a deadline; set an alarm to start getting ready for bed if you need to.

For example, if you want to go to bed by 10.30, you should have everything done by 9. Then leave the hour and a half to do some dreamland prep–shower, read, make your bed all cozy and comfy, play some *light, relaxing, soothing* music.

Avoid watching the tv, engaging in intense conversations or heated debates, or watching your cell phone/ipad/itouch/electronic screens.

*Put your phone on silent! Ever since I started doing this, it is MUCH better. Yes, someone may have an emergency, in which case, hopefully they have a land line number. Being disturbed by 1, 2, 3 am texts is not my favorite thing in the world, especially when half asleep. Nor is receiving those drunk dials when the person asks, “Oh, were you asleep?!” & continues their conversation directly after.

Try going to bed the same time every day and waking up at the same time everyday. I know this can be hard during weekends, but at least try to wake up the same time everyday!

If you have trouble sleeping at night, try figuring out why. Do you take naps during the day time? Do you have trouble sleeping because you are worried about the next day? Is it “insomnia”? If so, it’s caused by something, and fix that something. Too much energy? Incorporate an intense workout during the day time. Thoughts running through your head? Imagine the perfect vacation, try to meditate, and practice deep breathing. Changes will not happen overnight, getting a regular sleep cycle may take some time; stick to it, give it a few weeks and it can’t hurt!

Good luck and sweet dreams ~ ~ wishing you the best success for the day to come 🙂

1. Natural Awakenings, August 2012
2. Doran SM, Van Dongen HPA, Dinges DF. Sustained attention performance during sleep deprivation: evidence of state instability. Archives Italiennes de Biologie 2001; 139(3):253-268.
3. Banks S, Dinges DF. Behavioral and physiological consequences of sleep restriction. J Clin Sleep Med 2007;3(5):519-528.


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