Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sleepy = Dopey

I invest a good deal of money, time, and mental energy in my health.

I see an acupuncturist, 
a chiropractor, 
an integrative Western-style doctor,
a dentist, and
an optometrist.

I brush and floss three times a day,
have a good mattress. 
practice yoga and meditation, 
eat organic meats, eschew caffeine, 
don't smoke, 
avoid the microwave, 
wear sunscreen (more on that soon), 
use orthotics, 
try to remember my multivitamin and fish oils, 
and even take the stairs whenever possible! 

And yet, I  ignore one of the most important (and most cost-effective) factors in overall health: sleep. Public shaming time:

Yes, I've been keeping track, and I did the math. It's an average of 6.3 lousy hours per night, while my doc says even grown-ups should get 8.Doesn't seem so bad, until you remember that's 30-50 hours of sleep debt per month!

I first heard about sleep debt from Dr. Jennifer Caudle, the director of family medicine in the division of General Internal Medicine at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD. 

Apparently, not sleeping enough is like shopping with a credit card. Even if I lose the receipt, the bank still knows about my little trip to BCBG, and the next one to Banana Republic. That pesky balance builds and builds and has to be paid, one way or another. At least with money, it's only money -- I pay the piper and wipe the slate clean. ("Ouch! But that skirt is cute and totally worth eating iceberg lettuce the rest of the month.") The possible ramifications of sleep-deprivation, though...they ain't pretty. I'll let Gwynnie give you the GOOP on that.

I routinely pick on Gwyneth Paltrow's blog (easy target), but her newsletter on sleep hit me right between my half-mast eyes. It compounded my PCP's recent chiding and the running conversations I have with friends, such as: "Tonight, I really am turning off the light at 9pm! 10, latest! OK, 11... Well, maybe tomorrow."

I'm sick and tired of being so tired I feel sick. With proof coming in from all sides that a well-rested girl is a greene girl, it's time I do as Dylan suggested"shut the light, shut the shade" and get some Zzzzs! 


  1. I enjoyed this and I resemble that remark :). Please note time

  2. As I read your blog this morning with blurry eyes from the few hours I slept last (which on average is 5-6 hours a night!). I realize this has just got to change. I wish there were some kind of app on my iphone that would zap me every time I was up too late! Thanks for the eye opener on how important sleep is.

  3. A "go to bed" iPhone app! Galit, that is genius. You could make millions!!

  4. What a great blog and yes I am sitting here at 10pm reading it on my iPhone when I should have turned the light off as getting up around 5!! Really need to work on this as fed up feeling tired and washed out during the day.

  5. I don't have an iphone. Thank goodness I can't bring the internet to bed with me! I do however struggle with staying up too late. I have been trying to get to bed by 9:30-10 and not turning on tv-just reading. This seems to help me fall asleep well before 11. It is getting in bed and resisting the tv that are key for me.

  6. Know that as with most things relating to humans and our state of being, all things are relative as to averages.

    The average person requires on average, an average of eight hours at 56 hours per average week for an average health average worker working an average of 40 hrs.

    Consider though that many people are not within averages.
    Many as spread across all of humanity works out to be a lot.

    Below is an article on sleep that I'd posted to my FB this past May.

    Exploring 10 Popular Sleep Myths
    Researchers Explain What Happens Behind Closed Eyes
    ABC News Medical Unit
    May 11, 2010

    "...Eight hours has long been touted as the gold standard of sleep time, but this number is an average: Most people need seven to nine hours. Some can get by on four hours a night, but others need as many as 12.

    "We don't have a lot of data on what exactly the best amount of sleep for a person is, but it's most certainly individual," said Dr. Robert Basner, director of the sleep center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center."

    Right now my PC clock says 1:38A EST.
    I am wide awake. I woke up this morning at 6:30A, walked around a bit and then went back to bed to be awakened by my kids at 8:35A to then roll out of bed just after 9A.
    I went to bed at 2:45A EST, Friday morning. Today is Saturday.

    With regularity I sleep as little as three to as relatively much as 7 hrs. (weekends)and I feel fine.
    Have been doing so for nearly 40 years now since was the age of my son now (4), and with no ill effects.
    Commonly in the spring and fall/winter when hunting season is in for turkey, deer and bear I will not sleep at all for 24 to as long as 72 hrs. straight so as to support my drive to and from where ever I might be, as well as time in the field. I do this too with regularity.

    Interestingly I am the most energetic person I know, and am commonly remarked as same by most everyone.
    In an average week I might get 30 hrs.of total sleep. By many doctors accounts and following the very old and long held adage of sleep requirements I then would be continually carrying a deficit of on average 50% per week/month/year...As over basically the past forty years.
    Not humanly possible to endure muchless support many would think and purport. Yet, here I am living and breathing proof.

    There are many others like me and we enjoy having basically and extra 30% of life in literal time to live as while most every other average person is non-functional asleep.
    For example my wife requires 9 hrs. and prefers 12 hrs. of sleep. So do both my inlaws. Twelve hours! That is half a day.
    As compared to just 3 or 4 to 6 hours.

    If you are following your own natural sleep pattern and with that are still feeling low in energy/tired, then I'd think to consider there might be some factor other than the sleep.
    Diet, nutrition, stress (momentary mental state of mind) and/or environment.

    Sleep is not the end all and be all of feeling tired or not tired.
    Even as it is commonly the first thing people think to assume as being ones problem.

    Commonly doctors remark that lack of sleep can result in cardiac and circulatory issues.
    I get a full physical annually. Have been since age 12 as related to participation in various sports & athletics.
    No problems what so ever. But then that's because I exercise, while not sleeping (!).

    Some additional info on same;

    Great People Sleep Less?

    So, why do some people need such little sleep?
    Friday, 14 August 2009

    I'm likely going to head off to bed in about a half hour at 2:30A per my usual, for a typical weekend rate of 5 or 6 hrs. recharge of sleep.