It will probably come as no surprise, but most of us reading this coachingtip live in a near constant state of sleep deprivation. Consider these soberingfacts:
- According to a Gallup Poll conducted for the NationalSleep Foundation, one out of every two people suffers from sleeplessness atsome point in their lives, many of them chronically.
- It’s estimated that 30-40 million Americans suffer fromserious sleep disorders that undermine their sleep quality and their health.
- In the past century, we have reduced our average timeasleep by 20 percent and, in the past 25 years, added a month to our averageannual work/commute time. Most adults sleep less than 7 hours per night duringthe workweek.
- According to a 1999 National Sleep Foundation poll, 40%of adults say that they are so sleepy during the day that it interferes withtheir daily activities.
- The NSF poll also found that daytime sleepiness is atan unexpectedly high rate among children at school. According to parent reports,60% of children under the age of 18 complained of feeling tired during the day,and 15% admitted to falling asleep at school.
- Drowsy driving causes at least 100,000 crashes in theUnited States each year, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationreports.
- 62% of adults in the U.S. experienced a sleep problem afew nights a week or more during the past year. While the proportion of adultswho experienced this frequency of sleep problems did not differ by sex or age,73% of shift workers report such problems, compared to 59% of regular dayworkers.
- <spanstyle=’font:7.0pt “times=”” new=”” roman”‘=””>Smokers and people who use alcohol as a sleep aid aremore likely to have problems sleeping.
Even though the statistics make a clear and convincing case to the contrary,most of us think we’re getting adequate sleep when we’re really not. Do youhave a hard time getting out of bed in the morning? Do you try to catch up onyour sleep over the weekends? Do long meetings, overheated rooms, or heavymeals put you to sleep? Do you often sleep less than 7• hours per night? If theanswer is yes to any of these questions, then you’re not getting adequatesleep.
So what’s adequate sleep? It varies from individual to individual, but it’scertainly no less than 7• hours per night. That’s just how we’re made. Why 7•rather than the proverbial 8? Because sleep tends to run in approximately90-minute cycles. Wake up in the middle of a cycle, when you’re in deep sleepor dreaming, and you can fill the whole day with grogginess, moodiness, andirritability as well as poor concentration and judgment. Wake up at the end ofa cycle, when you’re in light sleep and your body is going through aself-diagnostic check, and you’ll end up more alert, attentive, personable, andrefreshed not to mention healthy and creative.
The best sleep pattern is to wake up at more or less the same time everymorning, regardless of when you go to sleep (even on the weekends). To get moresleep on the weekends, go to bed earlier rather than get up later. Calculatewhen to go to sleep by using the 90-minute cycle rule: the time you sleep inminutes should be divisible by 90 (3, 4•, 6, 7•, and 9 hours for themathematically challenged).
You may want to use your next vacation to get rid of the sleep debt you’vebeen accumulating: sleep until you’re all slept out, day after day, with noalarm clock. When you get back home, rearrange your schedule to get at least 7•hours on most nights. That way you’ll be sure to get your rest.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC