Friday, March 25, 2011

On Sleep, or Not Getting Enough of It

Sometimes I forget what it feels like to dream because vivid dreams typically occur during REM cycles of sleep. I have gotten 7 hours of sleep for the last two nights, though, and I had the most incredible dreams. When I woke up this morning from a dream, I thought, "I need to get more sleep." Can you believe it? It's a sad state of affairs when dreams remind you that you haven't been getting enough sleep . . .

The CDC recently published an article about the effects of sleep deprivation: Effect of Short Sleep Duration on Daily Activities. A couple of friends forwarded it to me because it reminded them of me, and maybe in some way, they wanted to let me know what not getting enough sleep was doing to my body.

Here's the thing: I know what sleep deprivation does. I could've told the CDC what the short-term effects of sleep deprivation are, and then they wouldn't have had to spend the money on collecting and analyzing sleep data. I could have told them that not getting enough sleep leads to the following adverse health effects:
  • Diminished ability to focus on a task, mental or physical
  • Diminished ability to say no to sugary foods
  • Neck and lower back soreness
  • Unhealthy-looking skin
  • Dark under-eye circles
  • Itchy, dry eyes that can actually really, really hurt
  • Problems going to the bathroom (Look, this is an honest list.)
  • Dreamless sleep
Why do I continue to not get enough sleep, you ask? The honest answer is that I don't know why. Every night, I somehow think that not getting enough sleep will be okay. That I'm perfectly alert (well, almost) at 2 in the morning, and 5 hours is plenty of sleep. In fact, it's more than enough! Heck, while I'm at it, I'm doing pretty good; I may as well just watch one more episode of "30 Rock," or get one more TED Talk in. Also, I'm going to be so busy doing schoolwork tomorrow, I may as well get the nitty-gritty done tonight, such as cleaning my room. The list goes on and on.

You get used to functioning on minimal sleep, too. In fact, I'm convinced I could've been an emergency room surgeon because I'm so good at living on less sleep.

And yet, in the morning, when I'm covering the dark circles with concealer, I never fail to regret my lack of sleep. I never think, "Oh, that 4 hours of sleep was so good! I'm so prepared for the day now!" Similarly, I never regret getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep, even if it means I didn't get all of my homework done. The real kicker is this: If I am so good at living on less sleep, what could I accomplish if I were well-rested???

It's an interesting question, and I'm willing to investigate the answer. It's going to be a tough, actually. Really tough. Drug rehabilitation centers recommend that less than 90 days of treatment results in limited to no effect. I'll treat my sleep deprivation the same. I'm giving myself 90 days of treatment. It will be hard, considering that this is the last month and a half of the semester, but I'm going to try . . .

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thing I'm thankful for: my sisters


Blogger cardlady said...

Do get more sleep. I love you and want you to have wonderful dreams! MOM

5:46 PM  
Blogger Pumba said...

Good luck Sara!! I fully support you. You can do hard things!!!! Love you!

6:19 AM  
Blogger Eve said...

I support you too! Because it doesn't get any better when you have kids. All the hours of quietness to do whatever you didn't get done during the day are way too tempting!!

8:18 PM  
Anonymous said...


I hope all is well with you. Healthline just published an infographic detailing the effects of sleep deprivation on the body. This is an interactive chart allowing the reader to pick the side effect they want to learn more about.

You can see the overview of the report here:

Our users have found our guide very useful and I thought it would be a great resource for your page:

I would appreciate it if you could review our request and consider adding this visual representation of sleep deprivation to your site or sharing it on your social media feeds.

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All the best,
Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager

Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

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1:53 PM  

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