“Sleep that knits the ravell’d sleeve of care…” as well as sustains memories and enhances learning.
Perhaps you will make or have made resolutions for the new year. May I propose that you make a “continuing resolution? That is one that you can maintain for the rest of your life. Here it is: I will get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Impossible? Not necessarily. Reading Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, will help you break this resolution down into useful sub-resolutions such as a) no more sleeping pills to avoid “rebound insomnia” b) a darker bedroom. i.e. no phones or laptops! c) just because I’m over 50 doesn’t mean I don’t need eight hours of sleep. Or maybe -if you have teenage children – try to a) understand why they’re still up at 11:00 and b) try to convince your school board to start high school LATER in the morning! (SPOILER ALERT: Chronobiology.)
Matthew Walker is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California-Berkley and is also the founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science in Berkley. Although Why We Sleep is written in layman’s language, it discusses the content of decades worth of sleep research, including the relationship between sleep, learning, memory and memory transfer.
It is also the first book I’ve read where the author says he would not be offended if you fell asleep while reading this book. Seriously! He says that on page 11. Walker also suggests that instead of having to read the whole book, you can read the chapters out of order. This is a useful suggestion for those of you concerned about the things keeping you from a good night’s rest. What about sleeping pills? Skip to chapter 14. Insomnia? Chapter 12 for definitions and what triggers it. What does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-1 have to do with curing insomnia? Chapter 14. Too much reading, you say. How about a list of good practices? See the Appendix for twelve tips. Is it all up to ME to change my sleeping habits? What about organizational change? What about educational change? Skip to the last chapter.
In the last chapter Walker proposes that education about the benefits of sleep should be taught alongside the benefits of exercise and nutrition. Insurance companies could provide incentives for consistent sleep, not just the quantity of sleep hours. There are fitness trackers that can monitor these. (Exceptions can be made for insomniacs. Perhaps insurance companies could provide cognitive behavioral therapy apps.)
You know – or probably are- a “morning person” or maybe a “night owl”. Maybe the 9 to 5 workday is more of a hindrance than a help. Does your employer recognize that? Some businesses allow for more flexible shifts if there are a “core group” of employees available.
Intensive care units in hospitals should reduce and eliminate the noise of its monitoring equipment so that patients can sleep. [RANT] Years ago, my Dad was in an ICU unit in a Chicago hospital. It sounded louder than a video game parlor! [/RANT]
Matthew Walker acknowledges that the lack of sleep cannot be solved only through individual actions. Organizations, educations, and society itself must accommodate the change.