Unless you are too sleep-deprived to react, and maybe you are.
“One thing we both noticed was a huge boost in mood — moments of unexplained, unreasonable joy would strike us at random times during the day. I’m not talking about the calm sea of serenity — I’m talking about bursts of goofy delight — the kind that’s really obnoxious to the moody people around you.”
Did someone say “joy?” What’s this joy he speaks of? In my current nadir of sleep loss, and facing another two months of this, I find I cannot even process the word “joy,” much less determine a definition. He’s describing what it must feel like to be “well-rested.” Even on the short bursts of vacation I’ve taken in the past – one week stolen here or there – I’ve never had this kind of rest in my life.
The pros of this experiment were stunning to me: more sleep, better sleep, improved mood. Joy. The cons were frustration at ambulating in the dark, wax drips, and less productivity. Count me in the group of folks who find those prose outweigh those cons by a metric ton!
Another recent study of sleep (Sleep Cleans the Brain) reveals sleep is a critical “brain-cleaning” time, and given my family history of Alzheimer’s, “adequate sleep” could be incredibly important to my health as I age. It could actually help me preserve my mind, which is the seat and root of who I am.
There are 168 hours in a week. (Doesn’t sound like much does it, in an era when many work 80 and 100 hour weeks) but that’s 24 hours x 7 days.) Of that 168 hours, most average Americans spend a minimum of 55 of those hours working and commuting to work (9 hours of work + 2 hours to dress-for and commute-to-and-back). For those who are not number savvy, that’s one third of your total possible time in life, in a week’s worth of life. We give 33% of our total possible time every week directly to the job and getting to/from the job. (I include the lunch hour, because few actually leave their work or work environs, and many don’t take a lunch at all.) If you work more than 40 hours, you’re even worse off on Time Left For. Assuming you gave yourself 7 hours to sleep each day (not including getting ready for bed and waiting to fall asleep) -- and that’s too little by an hour for the “recommended” guidance of 8 hours -- you’ve given 49 hours to sleep; that’s 29% of your total possible time. Between work and sleep, 62% of your life every week has been spoken for, and you’re sleep deprived to boot. That leaves you 38% of your time to devote to living a life: beyond the chores, bill paying, and obligations, what percentage is left for fun stuff, things we really want to do, things we’ll remember fondly – for joy? At the very least we clearly have a fallacious impression of giving equal thirds to the big chunks of “Time Spent For X.”
Sleep ought to receive its fair one-third (33%) but it usually does not; that would mean getting 7 extra hours of sleep a week! In addition, the view gets even worse when the metrics are sliced by-the-day: work gets the vast majority of 5 out of 7 days (71%) of a week, while life and sleep gets marginalized in the remaining 29%. We likely all know these quality-of-life-and-sleep indicators, but we ignore them -- at our peril.
That less-out-of-balance schedule cannot be reclaimed yet, but beginning this week, I’m going to get more sleep. I’m going to quit working after 12 hours or less – in fact, maybe I’ll even try to be HOME by the time 12 hours rolls around – and I’m going to try to get in bed and turn out the lights before 10. If I want to read before bed, I have to head that way well in advance of Lights Out. Edison had his unintended consequences and so have I – working too much and sleeping too little has again started sucking the marrow from my life’s bones, and I am too old for this. Life is literally too short -- I should be giving more of my 168 hours to things that restore me.
Before time runs out.
“For disappearing acts, it's hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight of sleep and eight of work.” ~ Doug Larson (columnist)