As I get older, I often joke that I am always just one nap away from my next nap.
Only it’s not really a joke.
Me-now honestly cannot work out what young me ever had against nap time.
Why did I resist? Oh, to have those mandatory mid-day naps back again!
I suspect that, during the era when I was growing up and then first joining the workforce, sleep was viewed as a luxury – something only very rich or very unmotivated people ever got enough of.
I knew I was probably never going to be the former and I definitely didn’t want to be the latter, so I resigned myself to a life of constant sleep deprivation.
(This didn’t do anyone any favors, I have to say. I am VERY grumpy when I am sleep deprived.)
At my first job right out of college, it was practically mandatory to excel on very little sleep. No one wanted to arrive at the office and admit to actually being well-rested, let alone look the part. It would be easier (and kinder) to just fire yourself.
Over the years, I have gradually adjusted the amount of hours I work and the amount of hours I sleep. I have done this because I have realized that any work I do while insufficiently rested might as well not get done at all.
Plus, I feel a lot better about being me – in every possible way a person could feel better – if I’ve gotten good sleep.
Happily, today’s sleep researchers support me on this. Would you believe that what was once viewed as a luxury is now called “sleep science?”
(For the record, I think this is the most fabulous thing ever. I could totally be a “professional sleeper” if such a position ever becomes available).
In a recent Time magazine article called “The Sleep Cure,” researchers call sleep “overnight therapy.”
Researchers state that sleep serves all of the following purposes as well as potentially many more:
- During sleep our major organs are able to rest and repair themselves.
- During sleep we “sleep off” minor traumas so they don’t linger to harm us.
- During sleep we distill experiences from the day prior into objective, useful lessons we can carry with us.
- During sleep our brain detoxifies itself and rebalances its hormones, enzymes and proteins.
- During sleep the mind heals itself incrementally to stave off more serious issues such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and other issues.
- During sleep the body relaxes and releases excess stress.
- During sleep the body rids itself of inflammation that can lead to serious conditions like cancer.
No wonder they call it “overnight therapy!”
So how much of it does the average person need? For now, researchers continue to recommend a minimum of 7 hours per night, with more for kids, teens and young adults and perhaps a bit less for those in their golden years.
But for me personally, if I get less than about 9 hours of sleep per night, everyone around me will know it. I’m not sure why this is, except that I’ve always been wired for high sensitivity and stress, and perhaps my brain and body just need a bit more therapy to stay on a relatively even keel during my waking hours.
And I have to say, it is about time researchers recommended something I really enjoy as a “must do” for my health on a daily basis! Now if they would only recommend Starbucks and lemon-filled donuts, I’d be set.
Today’s Takeaway: Do you get enough sleep? How can you tell how much is “enough” versus too much (if there is such a thing) or not enough? Can you feel the effects of too little sleep in your body and/or mind?