Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Monday, March 14, 2011

How's Your Sleep?

CJOB's Question of the day today;

Are you having trouble adjusting to the time change?

Go to the poll to vote and see the poll results.

Sleep depravation is a big problem; we know that being sleep deprived can make you a risk on the road as judgment and reaction time are impaired.

Not getting enough sleep is also connected to weight gain; not getting enough sleep increases hormones that make you feel hungry, and decrease hormones that make you feel full, influencing you to eat more.

Lack of sleep makes you less productive at work, and decreases the positive effects of exercise.

So when it comes to our annual "spring ahead" time change where we set our clocks one hour forwards, do we suffer all the ill effects of sleep depravation from missing one hour of sleep?

Only if you are already sleep deprived.  If you usually get all the restorative sleep you need (between 7.5 and 9.5 hours) then missing one hour will not cause any significant change in cognition or reaction time.

If you're like many people in the modern world though, and you regularly get only 5 to 6.5 hours of sleep, then for you knocking off another hour of sleep will take its toll.

An interesting factoid: when we take away schedules and clocks and observe natural sleep times, almost everyone will sleep for 9 to 10 hours.

"I'll sleep when I'm dead".  This axiom is used to defend reducing sleep time in an effort to increase the time we have to do whatever we do when awake.  We tend to dismiss the importance of sleep, feeling that sleep is an inefficient use of time.  Some will even feel guilty for getting "too much" sleep as from their perspective they've wasted time that could have been spent working.

It turns out our work time is more productive when we get the right amount of sleep as we make fewer errors and have greater problem solving capacity and creative prowess.

If we are sleep deprived or have one night of terrible sleep we can't simply catch up by sleeping in the next day.  It could take a week or more of healthy sleep to get us close to returning hormones to normal levels and reset our sleep clock.

Caffeine doesn't wake you up, the drug caffeine does not compensate for the health risks associated with lack of sleep, such as obesity, heart disease, and type two diabetes.

Caffeine withdrawal occurs every night a regular caffeine consumer sleeps.  By the time morning comes around one will feel they really need that morning cup.  Indeed, following through on the urge does make a person feel better, but this is only because of a dependance on caffeine.  Cut the regular coffee intake for a couple weeks and a person will no longer experience the strong feeling of needing the java jive because there is no caffeine withdrawal that instigates the urge for more of the drug.

The old fashioned, but evidence based advice still stands:

  • Go to bed at about the same time every night
  • Get around 8ish hours of sleep
  • Wake without an alarm

What?  Wake without an alarm?  Are you nuts?  I may be, but not in regards to this topic.  If we get enough healthy sleep and go to bed at the right time, we'll wake up without an alarm feeling rested.  We just have to go to bed early enough so the timing works out that we awake when needed.

Of course if we're not living in a cave we will need that alarm from time to time, but as much as possible if we wake without an alarm, we will have far more energy than any energy drink could ever provide us.

Interesting info from Stats Canada on sleep

1 comment:

  1. Well written, well said. I wake naturally, without need of an electronic rooster. Pretty much hit the sack 10:15 every night and get up 6:45. I find I need fully 9 hours rest after hard workouts or races. Tim T