Jul 30, 2014

To Sleep, Perchance . . .

It suddenly dawned on me, just as I was about to turn in to bed last night, that it was Tuesday night and I didn't have my Wildcard post written yet. In fact, I didn't even have so much as an idea for it.

I thought about doing something about the reading nook, but there's not much progress going on there because the anthologies I catalogued over the weekend ended up in another bookcase. Although I have eye-balled my SF/F hardbacks and I'm pretty sure I won't need as much space in the nook as I thought for them, so I might be moving the anthologies after all. But that'll be a post for another day.

So then I thought, why not write on the subject that has been uppermost in my mind lately? Namely, sleep. Or lack thereof. ;-)

My sleep patterns have changed a great deal over the years. At one time I was almost as big a night owl as my husband, but that changed once we had a baby. My husband took care of the 2 a.m. feedings, since he was still up at that hour, while I went to bed a couple of hours earlier and was up at 6 a.m. (or there abouts). It worked out rather well and we suffered none of the sleep deprivation most new parents complain about.

I think I'm still a night owl at heart, Lord knows I enjoy staying up late, but I also have an appreciation for the early morning, when the world is still waking up and the neighbourhood is at peace . . . But that's only in the summer time when it's nice out. :-)

The times I sleep aren't so much an issue these days, our child left years ago and I'm self-employed, so I can sleep (or nap) pretty much whenever I like. It's the amount of sleep I get that I seem to be having an issue with.

I can remember a time when my magic number for a good night's sleep was seven. Seven hours was perfect. And while I could function on less sleep, if I got more than seven hours I could not, weird as that sounds. Too much sleep has always been worse for me than not enough. Since then my magic number became six, then five, but now it seems to be fluctuating again and no matter how much (or how little) sleep I get, I'm always tired.

So how much sleep do we really need?

According to the Sleep Foundation, there is no magic number, although they talk about basal sleep need, the amount of sleep our body needs for optimal performance, and sleep debt, the accumulation of sleep lost because of illness, poor sleep habits, or waking up in the night. But what I found interesting was that not only will too little sleep affect both your health and your cognitive abilities, too much sleep will too.

The American Cancer Society conducted a study of more than one million adults and found that the magic number for sleeping was seven hours. The group of people who slept shorter amounts and those who slept longer than eight hours had an average mortality risk that was greater, but the risk was higher for longer sleepers. Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, from the Mayo Clinic, agrees: Studies among adults also show that getting less or much more than seven hours of sleep a night is associated with a higher mortality rate.

PsychCentral is a little more generous, saying that: For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night appears to be the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day. I found it interesting that although this article had some great information on sleep deprivation, it had very little to say about getting too much sleep.

The Center for Disease Control did a study and here's what they found:
Too much sleep was defined as 10 hours or more per night, and optimal sleep duration was in the range of 7-9 hours.
•Nearly one-third of respondents—31.1%—reported sleeping 6 hours or fewer per night. The majority of respondents, 64.8%, reported sleeping in the optimal range of 7-9 hours.
•Slightly more than 4% of adults reported sleeping 10 or more hours per night.
•Both short sleep and long sleep were associated with greater risks of coronary heart disease and stroke.
•Short sleep and long sleep were also associated with elevated risk of diabetes and obesity.
•Both short and long sleepers were significantly more likely to report frequent mental distress, defined by researchers as an experience of poor mental health on 14 or more of the previous 30 days.
•Long sleepers had even higher risks of coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes than short sleepers did.

Fascinating stuff, to be sure, but it didn't really help me with my sleeping issue, so I kept surfing until I found an article wherein The National Health Institute had this to say: The quantity of sleep you get is important, sure, but it's the quality of your sleep that you really have to pay attention to. Some people sleep eight or nine hours a night but don’t feel well rested when they wake up because the quality of their sleep is poor.

And there we have it. Obviously I'm not getting too much sleep, although I might not be getting quite enough. But it's the quality of my sleep that's an issue these days. It's allergy season. My husband has allergies. And he snores like a steam engine. Even though his snoring doesn't wake me up, I have to wonder if I'm getting the best quality of sleep. And it doesn't help that these days if he needs to get up in the night (which, because of the medication he's on he frequently does) he has to wake me up to help him back into bed (because he's just had his hip replaced and can't bend properly yet).


Wasn't it Nietzsche who said That which does not kill us makes us stronger? Or maybe it was Conan the Barbarian. Whatever. All I know is, if it's true then by the time my husband is fully recovered I should be freaking superwoman!

So . . . how much sleep did you get last night?

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