Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How Do People Stand to Feel This Way?

I am tired. Miserably tired. My head is fuzzy and I'm struggling to put thoughts together. My bloodshot eyes hurt and my eyelids feel like they've weighted down by invisible barbells. My legs feel like huge sandbags have been attached. My muscles feel like I've done four aerobics classes in a row.

I've been awake way too many hours. We've been in New York City this past week. We explored the sites from Harlem in the north of the city to Staten Island beneath its southern tip, and points in between. We ate so much New York pizza we're in danger of exploding. This morning, I left Manhattan at 4:30 a.m., or 2:30 Denver time. I've been up since then. It's not pretty.

How do people stand to feel this way all the time? Lots of people live in a constant state of sleep deprivation. All the time. They think the foggy head and sluggish body are normal. In fact, the latest National Sleep Foundation poll found that we get an average of 6.5 hours of sleep now. That's not enough.

We all know what we need to do to be healthy. Eat fruits and vegetables. Exercise regularly. Get regular medical tests. When we rattle off this laundry list, we rarely include getting adequate rest. This doesn't make sense. Getting enough sleep is way easier than getting mammograms or colonoscopies. It doesn't require the discipline of hitting the gym everyday or steaming up that broccoli day after day. It doesn't hurt at all, and in fact, feels good!

Do you get enough sleep? If not, why not? We'll discuss the reasons why it's difficult in our caffeinated, speedy, hyped-up, 24/7 society ... but not now. I've got to get some sleep.

7 comments:

Heffalump said...

I get enough sleep...maybe too much. Ever since I got pregnant with this baby I have been exhausted, and I don't function well without about ten hours of sleep, sometimes more. I am sure that I will not get anything close to that once the baby is born, so for now I will enjoy getting what I can.

Lisa said...

Yes, babies do tend to interrupt our sleep. (Boy, is that an understatement.) However, the fact that you're getting enough sleep right now means you'll be better prepared to cope. I think it's impossible to get too much sleep. Isn't that right, Robert?

Robert said...

Yep. Can't really get too much sleep - your body won't let you do that. You can stay in bed too long, but that usually ends up with pretty disrupted/poor sleep. If you are actually asleep, you need it.

Anonymous said...

I am exhausted and sleep-deprived all the time. I have too many things to do to make getting enough sleep a top priority. There's just not enough time! I know it's bad, but I don't feel like I'm the only one who does this.

Robert said...

Anonymous - according to the NSF poll, you are not the only one not getting enough sleep. The reality is that if you get enough sleep, you would likely be able to do more with less time since you would be performing better. Also, if you do have a time when you need to have less sleep, you would handle it better if you do this while well rested prior to losing a bit of sleep.

csale said...

I had to laugh when I saw the all-nighter poll. I am a masters student and I just had three papers due today. I woke up on Monday morning at 10:00am and didn't get to go to bed again until Tuesday at 4:00pm. I usually end up pulling an all nighter at the end of each semester so every few months. Generally I try to get enough sleep. But when that deadline hits I'm tied to my computer. I've experienced some interesting symptoms of sleep deprivation. The one I hate the most is being clumsy. I tend to trip and fall over a lot after an all-nighter.

Lisa Ray Turner & Robert Turner said...

We've all been there, csale! I don't know a single college student who hasn't pulled a few all-nighters.