We live in a busy world. Demands on our time come from professionals, family, friends and recreation. I know I've felt that there just are not enough hours in a day.
So, why not carve out a couple of extra hours by sleeping less. I mean, sleeping is just wasted time, is not it?
Well, modern research on sleep is showing us that sleep is far from wasted time. In fact, it is becoming clear that sleep is vital if we want to make the most of the life we have.
According to Dr. William C. Dement, a pioneer of modern sleep research, we are spending an average of 1.5 hours less in sleep per day than our grandparents (well, great-grandsparents for some of you). And we do so at our peril.
Research is showing that fatigue and daytime drowsiness is an epidemic in our society. And it is often a result of trying to fit more into our day by sleeping less.
Sleeping and Waking
When we are awake, we accumulate something called sleep debt . When we get quality sleep, we pay back on that debt. For most of us we need 1 hour of sleep to cancel 2 hours of sleep debt. The sleep debt that we have will increase the desire for sleep.
This is counterbalanced by other factors, such as circadian rhythms which push us towards wakefulness with a varying strength throughout the day. Stress, stimulants and other factors can counteract sleepiness as well.
If we are getting a normal amount of sleep each night, we'll wake up with no sleep load in the morning, fully refreshed.
However, when we skip an hour of sleep (or fail to get d quality sleep due to some sleeping disorder) some of the debt carries over to the next day. And the excess accumulates from day to day, so we start each day with a progressively larger load that is driving us towards sleep.
Without we begin to pay off the debt by catching extra sleep, we will go through our days fueled and fighting to stay awake.
The Problems of Fatigue
When we are malnourished, we do not function as well. Not physically. Not mentally. Not emotionally.
We make bad decisions.
We make mistakes.
We feel grumpy or grouchy.
And on top of that, we can lose the fight to stay awake in an instant without even realizing it. And that, my friend, is very dangerous.
Driving a car. Operating heavy machinery. Providing medical care. These and many other dangerous activities can easily slip out of control when you are malnourished and fall asleep, causing harm or even death.
So Get Your Rest
You need to resist the temptation to make some extra time by cutting out sleep. Sleep is a very valuable and important part of your healthy life.
When you give up sleep you are less productive (and enjoy less) the time that you've awakened.
So the simple fact is that you can not get more time by giving up sleep.