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A man sleeping

I’ve read a lot of posts recently about sleep – or more specifically, the lack of it for many of us. Some people don’t think “sleep” is a serious problem. I beg to differ.

The Institute for Health and Productivity Management (https://ihpm.org) lists failure to address sleep as a major health and workplace issue, although they are certainly not alone in pointing out this problem. According to the National Sleep Foundation, (https://sleepfoundation.org) roughly 20% of Americans say that they get less than six hours of sleep on average, and the number of Americans who report that they get eight hours or more has decreased.

The effects of not getting enough sleep have been well documented: motor vehicle accidents, relationship problems, heart disease, diabetes, and other physical and mental health issues.

An overlooked sleep issue, in my opinion, is using “eight hours’ sleep” as the gold standard for rest. We all know some people who can get by on little sleep, while others aren’t well rested even with a full night’s sleep. What gives?

Inventors like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were well known for their ability to get by on little sleep – supposedly as little as two or three hours a night. I’m not sure if anyone can adequately explain how they were able to do this, but www.brainpickings.org reports that Edison had a “dirty little secret”: he was a “power napper.” The Urban Dictionary describes this as: “A person who can fall asleep/take a nap at any time of the day, at any place in the world, in any situation and then wake up like a Phoenix reborn from the ashes.

I, for one, am a power napper! How long are these naps? That depends, but 30 minutes to as much how-long-to-napas an hour is pretty common. In brief, I get an overwhelming urge to sleep, many times, though not always, when I’m bored or after a meal. But unlike the typical person who can shake off drowsiness pretty quickly, perhaps with a cup of Joe, in many cases that won’t cut it for me. I need some quick shut-eye to function well again!

Some refer to power napping as “polyphasic sleep,” but I’m not qualified to discuss sleep cycles, circadian rhythms, etc. If you want to learn more, check out a source like this site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biphasic_and_polyphasic_sleep

I’d like to point out another sleep habit that’s probably more common than napping: sleeping in! Some folks, like my late dad, don’t get a full night’s rest during the week, but “power sleep” 10-12 hours or so on the weekend. Some people can do this pretty effectively with few ill effects; others, not so much. I used to sleep in a LOT in my single days, the problem was that getting up earlier again on Monday morning was HARD! Of course, there’s also the matter of whether you want to sleep in that much on the weekend when you could be doing other things.

And what about people who say they work 12 or more hours each day? How does that fit in to the sleep equation? “If you have a look at the American Time Study, you will find that most people who claim to work 55 hours a week, actually work around 40 hours,” states a writer on Quora.com. “People who claim to work around 70+ hours actually work around 45-50 hours.”  For more on this study, visit http://www.bls.gov/tus/

“There is plenty of research that shows that you can only be highly productive/creative around 3-4 hours a day – that you do your best work in batches of 90-120 minutes and that you need breaks to recharge your batteries,” the same blogger adds.

Perhaps napping, instead of being seen as a weakness or laziness, is actually a smart thing to do? What do YOU think? Leave a comment!

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