There are times I wonder if the weekend editions of “Good Morning Gratitude” should be renamed “Good Afternoon Gratitude”. Often the less structured hours of a Saturday or Sunday allow getting things done at an enjoyable and more leisurely pace. So far today about all I have done is sleep late, do laundry and catch up on emails from last week I did not get to as they came in.
This morning I slept later than I can remember having done in a long time: eleven hours! Last time I strung that many hours of sleep together I was suffering badly from jet lag after returning from a European trip. Dragging butt from sleep shortfalls during a business trip last week plus comforting a friend Friday evening into the wee hours of Saturday morning gave me a dose of sleep deprivation.
With curiosity if I could actually “catch up” on sleep I missed out on and wondering how much sleep a person needs, I did some research. What I found began with the words of Michael H. Bonnet, PhD who is a professor of neurology at Wright State University School of Medicine. He wrote we are all different. You need enough sleep so you can awaken feeling refreshed without an alarm clock. With a close friend who has slept only 1-4 hours per night since he was a little boy and my guesstimated need of 8 hours, I know there are wide swings in how much individuals need to spend time sleeping.
According to “Web MD” whether you need seven, eight, or even nine hours of sleep a nightmay be up for debate, but the importance of getting adequate sleep is not debatable. Sleep loss increases the risk of high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, and diseases associated with these risk factors, such as diabetes and heart disease. Sleep loss also impairs performance and mood, according to the report.
Duh! I know all about “impaired performance and mood” from my experiences back when my alarm went off at 3am each workday and am not surprised living that way has health implications. It was suggested by Web MD to test to see how much sleep you need: If you need an alarm clock to wake, try going to sleep 15 minutes earlier. Do you still need an alarm clock? If you do, push your bedtime up another 15 minutes. Do this until you no longer need an alarm to wake up. This exercise should give you a pretty good idea about the amount of sleep you need per night. Sounds logical and I hope to be my own lab rat and try that experiment sometime.
Back in April when I began blogging here, to have the time to write each morning I intentionally changed my sleep habits and referenced it in an early blog titled “A Recovering Night Owl” https://goodmorninggratitude.com/2011/05/26/a-recovering-night-owl/ From that experience it is known to me that one can adapt their sleep habits.
Digging deeper I found: Studies show that people who sleep between 6.5 hr. and 7.5 hr. a night, as they report, live the longest. And people who sleep 8 hr. or more, or less than 6.5 hr.; they don’t live quite as long. There is just as much risk associated with sleeping too long as with sleeping too short. The big surprise is that long sleep seems to start at 8 hr. Sleeping 8.5 hr. might really be a little worse than sleeping 5 hr. That was a bit of a wakeup call since I am writing this after sleeping eleven hours last night!
Moving on to an answer of how much sleep I need, the following was found on Helpguide.org: Aim for at least 7.5 hours of sleep every night. Consistency is the key. Settle short-term sleep debt with an extra hour or two per night. (If you lost 10 hours of sleep, pay the debt back in nightly one or two-hour installments).
Helpguide.org offers similar advice to Web MD (above) about sorting out how much sleep I need. Take a sleep vacation to pay off a long-term sleep debt. Pick a two-week period when you have a flexible schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and allow yourself to sleep until you wake up naturally. No alarm clocks! If you continue to keep the same bedtime and wake up naturally, you’ll eventually dig your way out of debt and arrive at the sleep schedule that’s ideal for you. Sounds like a good idea but will take some astute planning in order to have a chance to try it.
Now it is late afternoon and if I don’t hurry this entry will be posted near bedtime and have a name amendment to “Good Evening Gratitude”. With the knowledge of the friend who sleeps just a little and at least two others who suffer from insomnia, spending a couple of hours reading about sleep brought to the surface several pieces of gratitude.
1) With a few exceptions I have no problem going to sleep.
2) Most nights I sleep quite well. Only occasionally do I wake up and have a problem going back to sleep.
3) For the most part my lifestyle allows me to get near what I perceive as the proper amount of sleep each night. I do cheat myself out of sleep at times so I can do other things though.
I find one additional thing to be grateful and that is the knowledge of the experiments on how to find the proper amount of sleep that fits me personally. While I have no idea when I will find the time to try, it is on my ‘to do” list and will happen in the months to come. I will write about the experience then.
And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep,
and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.