Go Catch Some Z's — Sleeping Is Really Good For You

Sleeping, male baby cat. Red hair.
Yeah, like this....Image via Wikipedia

Sleep deprivation seems to be the hot new topic, with features in Self and February Glamour, in which editor in chief Cyndi Lieve  — who sleeps 5.5 hours a night (ouch!) — actually challenges Arianna Huffington to a sleep duel. Let the snoring begin!

Writes Leive:

We’re saying no to the zombie side of things and, as of January 4, resolving to get a full night’s sleep every night for a month. Cindi’s going for seven and a half hours (that’s Dr. Breus’ recommended minimum, since it allows for a healthy round of five 90-minute sleep cycles); Arianna’s choosing eight (arrived through trial and error as the number of hours it takes for her to be at her most creative and effective and have the most fun while being creative and effective)….

The problem is that women often feel that they still don’t “belong” in the boys-club atmosphere that still dominates many workplaces. So they often attempt to compensate by working harder and longer than the next guy. Hard work helps women fit in and gain a measure of security. And because it works, they begin to do more and more and more of it until they can’t stop.

But it’s a Pyrrhic victory: The workaholism leads to lack of sleep, which in turn leads to never being able to do your best. In fact, many women do this on purpose, fueled by the mistaken idea that getting enough sleep means you must be lazy or less than passionate about your work and your life.

I figured it would all about the kids-commute-second shift exhaustion, not keeping up with the guys.

Writes Patti Wolter in Self:

“Sleep is no different from diet or exercise,” says Carol Ash, D.O., a sleep specialist in Jamesburg, New Jersey. We know that eating 10 percent more calories a day can add 15-plus pounds to our frame in a year. But we fail to understand that sleeping 10 percent less carries a similar risk for weight gain. In fact, women who sleep five or fewer hours a night are one third more likely to gain 33 pounds over the next 16 years than those who get seven hours of slumber, the American Journal of Epidemiology reports.

And that’s just for starters. It’s best for our body to cycle through the five sleep stages four or five times a night: The first four stages are key to maintaining healthy metabolism, learning and memory; the fifth (rapid eye movement sleep, or REM) is important for regulating mood and forming emotional memories. Miss a cycle or two and our immune system, heart health, brain function and more can suffer Give it a rest! It’s time to get the curative shut-eye you crave.

I guess I’m a slotharama — I normally sleep eight hours every single night. I can barely function on six, am nauseated and semi-functional on five or less and not that great on seven. I’m also able to nap — as in pass out cold and really wake refreshed again a while later — almost anywhere: in the car, in a chair. I once fell dead asleep, mid-sentence and mid-chew, with my head against the wall of the Tall Ship I was crewing on, so insanely wearying was our physical labor.

I learned early, in my 20s, that I am an extremely short-tempered person, OK, it rhymes with witch, when sleep-deprived. Given my normal personality, getting plenty of rest seems a good idea.

How many hours are you sleeping a night? If it’s not enough, what’s stopping you from getting what you need?

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