Monday, May 7, 2007

The Dreads, Sleep Debt, and Other Sunday Night Musings

Imagine the wretched T-mobile jingle. You know the one, you've heard it on the commercials. I don't know what possessed me, but long ago when I got my current phone I set this as my alarm ring. Everytime I hear it, I cringe. It is the sound that will ring throughout the halls of hell!

Tonight is Sunday night. 9:01 PM as I type this, to be exact. The truth is, I have a serious case of what the roommate and I call "The Dreads." The weekend is over, or close to it, and work week begins again in a short 10 hours. That is right, I should get in bed because I have to leave for work in 10 hours. But I'm awake from finally being well-rested. I want the weekend to last a little longer. So, like every single Sunday night before this, I will stay up for another 2-3 hours, thus starting my weekly sleep deprivation cycle.

I learned recently from a study done at Stanford that this is called "Sleep Debt." Great, I am not only up to my ears in student loan debt, I am now in sleep debt? And I thought VISA was a b*%^#!?!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, apparently, this is possible. Sleep loss accumulates. It doesn't go away until we repay ourselves with the sleep we so desperately need. Say, for example, you get a solid 5 hours of sleep Sunday through Thursday, night after night for 5 nights straight. You are looking at a sleep debt accumulation of 15 hours. So this explains why I got well over 8 hours of sleep each night this weekend and managed to squeeze in 3, that's right, THREE naps! (Not to mention a doozy of a 3 hour nap on Thursday night!).

I am not alone, however. Apparently as a nation, we Americans have a serious problem with depriving ourselves of sleep. In a recent Gallup Poll, it was found that 56% of the adult population reported drowsiness to be a problem during the day. And that is only those who admitted to it. In another study, of the 1000 individuals who claimed they had no problem with daytime drowsiness, 34%, thirty-four whopping percent, were found to be dangerously sleepy. These are people who said drowsiness was no problem. Dangerously sleepy was defined by the study "individuals at a high risk for some sort of accident involving unintended sleep or impaired performance."

These are my conclusions:

1. I chose the wrong profession to be the night owl that I am. I WAKE UP at 9 PM. This is my body's natural high. I am most productive, have some of my best ideas, etc. around 9 PM.

2. I wonder if I wouldn't get The Dreads so much if I weren't in such a sleep debt?...probably not. :)

3. Who decided a high school schedule should start well before 8 AM? I work with teenagers, who, according to their natural body rhythms, tend to stay up later and wake up later. Who decided this was a good plan? Obviously not anyone who has witnessed my first period class filled with comatose 9th grade students.

4. Bring on the siesta! Spain has the right idea.

5. ZzzzZzzzzZzzzz.

Sources Cited:

Dement, William "Sleepless at Stanford: What All Undergraduates Should Know About How Their Sleeping Lives Affect Their Waking Lives." September 1997.

1 comment:

Blackeyedsue said...

I think moving to Spain would be brilliant! Thanks for putting a name to that feeling. "The Dreads" Nice.