Good Night, Get Some Sleep!
Monday, March 5, 2012
Remember when you were a kid, and you had to go to bed right when it seemed like the party was just getting started? You’re lying there and you can still hear your parents talking or watching TV. Summertime was torture because it was still light outside, and we all had the neighbors who didn’t have a bedtime and who were still out riding bikes. No fair.
And there was always somebody trying to make you take a nap. Your mom, your grandma, your babysitter, maybe even your kindergarten teacher. Yes, naps used to be built into school time. If you were like me, you rebelled. But I’m not tired!
Don’t you wish you could go back now and appreciate that? Imagine if your boss said, “You’re not coming to the meeting unless you’ve had some sleep, and I’m going to know if you only pretended.” Godsend!
Somehow we’re all on board with children needing their sleep. We know they learn better, they’re less cranky, they grow better, they’re healthier, and they’re less likely to become obese when they get their sleep. I even have a chart. It’s on my fridge, both to remind me who needs what and to quash complaints about bedtimes. My twelve-year-old should be getting nine hours and 45 minutes of sleep every night. My eight-year old needs ten, my four-year old needs 11. My toddler needs 11 to 12 at night with two more hours during the day so that he totals 14 hours.
And me? I should be getting eight hours to keep me sharp with a healthy heart and a good memory and not obese so I can live a long life. But it’s a miracle if I get seven. And I’m kind of embarrassed if I’m caught napping. Honestly, you hear of another grown-up napping on any day other than an easy Sunday afternoon, and you might ask if they’re feeling sick, or you might think they’re lazy.
Well, the fact is, we’re not sick, and we’re not lazy. We actually need it. Not just the 8-hour night, but the little power-nap during the day. Do you notice that your afternoon draggy time, when most people reach for a Diet Coke or something sweet to get a little shot in the arm, happens right at the midpoint of your usual wake-up time and your usual bedtime? For most of us, that’s between about 1 and 3 p.m.
Take a hint. Your body needs rest. If you can, rest for 15 minutes instead of taking a coffee break. It will rejuvenate you for the rest of the day. Trust me, I used to do it in my car when I was pregnant and working and absolutely had to. You can find a way.
Think about how crazy it is to assume that we can sleep for six or seven hours at night and get enough energy from that to go full-boar for the next 16 or more. We all need a little down time.
So here’s the challenge. Make a seven-hour night be your minimum. Get eight when you can. Studies show that adults who consistently get seven and a half hours of sleep per night have half the incidence of heart disease. (That’s right, it’s not just your eyes that get tired. It’s every organ in your body.) Do that, build in some afternoon down time, and pay attention to the difference it makes in your life. I promise you, you’ll feel like a different person. Sweet dreams.