Monday, April 27, 2009

Let's talk turkey

Well, not really turkey. But, turkey makes you sleepy, and what do I feel like talking about? Sleep. Why, you ask?

Because I'm freaking tired.

I got five hours of sleep last night, which would have been more than enough just four or five years ago. Lately, though, I seem to need exactly nine hours of sleep...any more or less and I'm sleepy, grumpy, and sluggish.

I've been trying to keep my sleep pretty even; I get up no later than 8:30 on the weekends, and I get up about 6:00 during the week. This weekend I got up at 8:00 on Saturday and unpacked all day. I went to bed about 11:30, and got up at 7:00 on Sunday. Sunday was filled with breakfast, then visiting Grandpa, doing a few chores at his house, then errands. I was pooped, and thought I'd fall asleep right away. But, I cleaned the kitchen, and ended up going to bed at...12:35 a.m.

Why, even after a full day of working hard, do I stay up late, thereby having trouble getting out of bed the next day? I often get tired in the evening - can't get off the couch, eyelids heavy, can't imagine getting up to get into bed tired - but once 7:30 passes, I get a second wind and I'm up until 11:00. WHY!?! I used to work all day, drive straight to school, stay at school for three to five hours, come home, do homework, and go to bed about 12:00 or 1:00. And I'd wake up the next morning and be fine. Granted, I haven't been able to get myself out of bed without a struggle since I was 17, but I wouldn't feel an overwhelming desire to call in sick and stay in bed.

Here are some interesting facts about sleep, according to the Australian National Sleep Research Project:

1. Anything less than five minutes to fall asleep at night means you're sleep deprived. Great - it takes me at LEAST fifteen to thirty minutes (sometimes more) to fall asleep every night. Grant, on the other hand, can fall asleep in the middle of a conversation. Lucky bum.

2. Elephants sleep standing up during non-REM sleep, but lay down for REM sleep.

3. REM sleep may help developing brains mature.

4. 17 hours of sustained wakefulness leads to a decrease in performance equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05%.

5. The "natural alarm clock" which enables some people to wake up more or less when they want to is caused by a burst of the stress hormone adrenocorticotropin. Researchers say this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up.

6. In insomnia following bereavement, sleeping pills can disrupt grieving.

7. Tiny luminous rays from a digital alarm clock can be enough to disrupt the sleep cycle even if you do not fully wake. The light turns off a "neural switch" in the brain, causing levels of a key sleep chemical to decline within minutes.

8. Humans sleep on average around three hours less than other primates like chimps, rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys and baboons, all of whom sleep for 10 hours.

9. Snoring occurs only in non-REM sleep.

10. Teenagers need as much sleep as small children (about 10 hrs) while those over 65 need the least of all (about six hours). For the average adult aged 25-55, eight hours is considered optimal.

11. Some studies suggest women need up to an hour's extra sleep a night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are much more susceptible to depression than men.

12. Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24-hour accessibility of the internet.

Now, I'm off to bed.

You're right, I'm lying. First I have to make lunches, do the dishes, fold laundry, end world hunger, and discover a cure for cancer.

No wonder I'm tired.

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