Sleep deprivation can jeopardize your mood, work performance and health. Most adults need seven to eight hours of restful sleep per night. However, most of us -- particularly parents -- aren't getting it. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 49 percent of parents of infants and 38 percent of parents of toddlers and preschoolers get less than seven hours of sleep each night.
In the November issue of Town&Country is a very interesting article by Christine Lennon entitled The Wired and the Tired. Lennon, mother of 4-year-old twins, discusses her quest for the perfect night's sleep. Lennon's daughter wakes her up almost nightly with "sleeptalking" and this tired mom needs to find a solution.
The article talks about how we are all taunted by the successful people in the world that sleep only four hours or so a night -- Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Jay Leno and Martha Stewart, among others. And although these people have certainly accomplished a lot on four hours sleep, studies show that only 5 percent of people can truly thrive on less than five hours of slumber. If you sleep less than five hours, you miss out on critical REM sleep, which is the time when information from your short-term memory is transferred to your long-term memory.
Although a number of famous people pride themselves on getting very little sleep, several others prefer to get a full night's rest and then some. Sophia Loren attributes her looks to beauty sleep, Albert Einstein required 10 hours of sleep a night and many others believe in the power of napping.
The piece quotes famous "pro-sleeper" Arianna Huffington: "Arianna Huffington, no slouch in the achievement department, took the stage at last year's TEDWomen conference… 'Two and a half years ago I fainted from exhaustion,' she told the crowd. 'I hit my head on my desk, broke my cheekbone, and got five stitches on my right eye.' It was then, she added, that she 'began the journey of rediscovering the value of sleep.'"
Lennon tried a variety of tactics to get a more restful night of sleep. One of those is the sleep monitoring device, the Zeo Sleep Manager. Lennon describes the Zeo as "a $200 sleep-monitoring device that tracks brain wave activity throughout the night, in your own bed. It's a fascinating little machine that offers a rare glimpse into your nocturnal world, logging the duration and quality of sleep and assigning the wearer a sleep score in the morning." Lennon appreciates Zeo's "gentle wake" alarm setting, which "reads your brain activity and picks the optimum time to rouse you based on your sleep cycle."
After receiving a score of 69 on her first night using the Zeo (scores can go up to 150) and awakening three times in the night, Lennon learned several things from consulting the myzeo.com website. Particularly, she read that looking at the computer and other devices before going to bed can disrupt your sleep. The next night, she wound down more sufficiently and went to bed earlier, achieving a deeper sleep and much better score on her Zeo. Lennon didn't even hear if her daughter called out to her in the night.
In addition to trying the Zeo, Lennon checked out a variety of iPhone apps designed to help you get a better night of sleep. She settled on Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson, a guided-meditation expert. When using Deep Sleep, she found herself falling to sleep quickly and getting a better night's rest.
In conclusion, Lennox stressed the importance of taking charge of your sleep and making it a priority. "What it boils down to, it seems to me, is that if we make sleep a priority -- actually turn some of our unfocused jabber about our fatigue into action -- we're likely to experience some results. Most of the advice that sleep experts offer is about modifying behavior -- drinking less alcohol or caffeine, trying relaxation exercises, getting more regular physical exercise -- and these variables are clearly within our control."
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