“To sleep, perchance to dream,” William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet. Forget the dreams; I’m having difficulty finding time to get ENOUGH sleep. But as some of my business gaffes last week show, I need more sleep because the lack of enough is affecting my cognitive abilities, my memory and making me anxious. I know I’ve hit on this topic before but it’s important enough to revisit.
The biggest gaffe (now corrected) is I mixed up dates for a one-day Blogging Your Memories workshop I’m teaching at the Riverdale Public Library branch in Toronto Oct. 5. I thought it was Oct. 3 and so put Oct. 5 as one of the dates for a Crafting Your Personal Memoir Writing course I’m running. Until I saw my library workshop posted on the library branch’s website. Oops.
Research shows I’m not alone in this Oops, not-enough-sleep factor.
A 2007 study conducted by Harris/Decima found that 90 percent of Canadian women don’t get sufficient shut-eye at night. Sixty percent of these sleep-deprived women live in Ontario, 59 percent in Quebec and the lowest number lacking enough sleep, at 50 percent, live in Maritime Canada. Why are we women not getting enough sleep? And the men are faring better. Stress (62 percent for women vs 53 percent for men), uncomfortable room temperature (61 percent for women and 43 percent for men), and insomnia (35 percent for women and 25 percent for men).
And according to an earlier (2003) National Sleep Disorders Research plan, not spending enough time in the land of nod affects cognitive tasks, i.e. the functional activity patterns between brain regions is altered. See http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/sleep/res_plan/section2/section2.htm.
And your memory – or maybe that should be MY memory – too little sleep affects our working memory, according to a Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_deprivation
This article states that EEG studies show if you get less sleep then you have less reaction time, your focus and your alertness decrease, and your accuracy nose-dives. Amen to that.
I think it all started years ago when in high school I burned the midnight and later oils cramming for exams. It didn’t do me much good. Since then I have had times when I did get sufficient sleep. When I was pregnant with my son, I had to go to bed soon after 7 p.m. or I yawned the rest of the evening. But it was also the time I could get up by 7 a.m. and be wide awake. Not anymore. If I have to get up early I’m often dragging myself around until I get a few shots of coffee inside me. Of course later in the day I want to nap, but I press on with work because I have a backlog of editing, writing, etc., not to mention house stuff, to do – despite prioritizing. But that’s another story.
Now, I’m still dragging myself around late late at night (you don’t want to know the time) finishing up house chores or organizing my next-day’s work schedule.
Two nights ago, I declared war on not getting enough sleep. That workshop/course date mix-up did it. Now. I’m trying to get my 7 1/4 hours of nightly sleep. That seems to be the magic number for me. I think I have to do as I did a few years ago when I would “kill” for my sleep and if anyone or anything stopped me from getting to bed by 11 p.m., let’s just say I didn’t feel kindly towards them.
Maybe it’s also an age thing – hormones, or no hormones, who knows. That Harris/Decima study didn’t mention anything about the ages of the women who were sleep-deprived. Or maybe (more likely) we women and men, too, are just doing too much; it’s stressing us out, and depriving us of sleep.
I’ve said “no” on a few things the past few weeks, and am trying to focus on one thing at a time – not always succeeding. More walking and continuing with my constant gardening (when not working) would also help. When winter comes I can shovel snow for exercise. Yeck!
I think I’ll continue concentrating on getting more sleep…and maybe perchance to dream about some ideas to cut down on the overwhelm in my days.
Anyone else have any ideas?
Only Child Writes