Insomnia is at epidemic proportions across America! It is reported that those who fail to get enough sleep have many serious problems. Most need seven hours a night; few get it. James Beckerman, MD, FACC(1) reports:
“You know lack of sleep can make you grumpy and foggy. You may not know what it can do to your sex life, memory, health, looks, and even ability to lose weight.
1. Sleepiness Causes Accidents. Sleep deprivation was a factor in some of the biggest disasters in recent history: the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill, the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, and others. But sleep loss is also a big public safety hazard every day on the road. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among people under 25 years old.
2. Sleep Loss Dumbs You Down. Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes in many ways. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently. Second, during the night, various sleep cycles play a role in ‘consolidating’ memories in the mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.
3. Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Serious Health Problems. Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for: Heart disease, Heart attack, Heart failure, Irregular heartbeat, High blood pressure, Stroke and Diabetes.
4. Lack of Sleep Kills Sex Drive. Sleep specialists say that sleep-deprived men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex. Depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension may be largely to blame.”
On June 24, 2015, Lester Holt, NBC Nightly News reported: ninety-five per cent of us use electronic devices, looking into a lighted screen, within an hour of going to bed (many take their smart phone with them to bed, checking e-mails and social media waiting for sleep). Ironically, it is reported that your brain sees the lighted screen as daylight and the brain “doesn’t think it is time to sleep” so you can’t sleep. Now awake, you watch your screen to pass the time and delay your sleep cycle even further. You need to turn off your device and read print on paper (also, I like recorded books, no lights).
I want to convince you to return to the pre-television days and return to reading. Make yourself a list of books which help you with your world-view. If you need any suggestions, I have a list of books important to me on my home page but I suggest you make your own list.
One hour before you wish to sleep, turn off everything but your reading lamp. Read yourself to sleep. This will extend your sleep and reduce the problems cited above.
Proactive exercise: . Start a reading journal. Make a list of books important to you or join a book club. Read at least one hour a day. In your journal write a paragraph review of what the author gave to you. If you do this, send me an e-mail and tell me of your experience.
I want to sell you a book: William Zinsser’s Writing to Learn, Harper Paperback and Kindle. I used this as a textbook and it is a classic among academics. His On Writing Well is also very helpful. Join the fraternity of writer/ readers. You will be welcomed. It is impossible that you have nothing to say. If you have trouble starting. one way to get over resistance is to read something and then write in your jounal how it made you feel – did it make angry or happy or moved to action- adopt a new position?. Write as if your were sending me a letter.
Turn off the TV. The commercial sponsors are shouting in your face. It’s not just the commercials: they are paying the men and women in the tube to keep your interest on the sensational and the superficial. If you want to love and to study something, read and write about it. See my blog posts on writing.(2)
(1) Providence Heart and Vascular Institute, St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Portland, OR.