Monday, October 1, 2007

Sleep experiment goes awry

My 7 hours per night sleep experiment went all to hell last night.

I thought I might have some trouble on the weekend, because I have a deep-seated resentment of the alarm clock. And on Saturday morning, I turned off the alarm and woke up one hour later, getting 8 hours of sleep. I didn't think that was too bad.

Saturday night I fell asleep in the den and just decided to stay there (I was on a futon, which was pretty comfortable). I woke up naturally at 7. I thought that was very interesting, as 7 is the time for which my alarm is set.

Last night I was exhausted. I decided to go to bed early and set my alarm for 6 am. I totally blew it off and slept until 8:30 -- getting 9.5 hours of sleep! I slept like a person who was sleep-deprived. I feel well-rested today.

I'm thinking of abandoning the experiment in favor of honoring my body's wisdom in knowing how much sleep I need. If that's more than the optimal amount, that may be due to the chronic illnesses I have, and I think I might just need to accept that. And to accept that it raises my risk of death or coronary event (but without stressing overly much about that).

As I said in my first post on this subject, the studies that have confirmed the "7 hours is optimal" theory have shown correlations, not causes, and it's possible that people who sleep more have more health problems and are thus at a higher risk anyway.

I think it might be wisest to just listen to what my body needs, while staying on top of the problems that might be disrupting sleep.


Sean Tubbs said...

Neat experiment! I find I perform better if I get less sleep. If I get over six, I'm groggy and it takes me longer to wake up.

I never used to be like this, but it happened after I worked as a news reader at WNRN, and now I can't get used to it. There also isn't enough time in the day!

Catherine said...

Thanks for writing, Sean. I was hoping to eke out a few more hours in the day myself -- that was as motivational to me as the possible health benefits. It's interesting that you changed your sleeping habits as the result of a job -- how long did it take you in the job before you were used to sleeping less? Maybe I haven't given myself enough of a chance to learn to sleep efficiently.

Sean Tubbs said...

I think it's necessity and experience. I had to be at the radio station by 5:45, armed with two sets of stories. If I didn't do it, the news wouldn't get read. That was a big motivator.

Trouble was, I could not make myself just go to bed at 9 or 10. I had work to do, and I've always worked best at night. So, I would find myself going to bed at 12 to get up at 5, over and over and over again.

When I took a full-time job and left the glamorous world of early morning community radio, the habit stuck with me. I found myself staying up later and later, blessed with not having to get up too too early.

There are also times when I need to get a project done, and I just have to stay up, Or, with my job being so busy right now, late night deadlines followed by early morning starts. So, it's kind of a work-influenced thing, I guess.