Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sleep, the Magic Drug

I'm serious about sleep. I need it the way an infant does, and I cry if I don't get it, the way an infant does. Every evening, I slowly power down like an obsolete computer, complete with checklist. No liquids past 7:30. TV off at 9. 15-30 minutes of reading, in dim, non-stimulating lighting. 

I can then reboot to greet the new day early and cheerfully.
Ergo, I am always a tad baffled when conversing with those who sleep in short, casual sequences: typically, guys. Many, many a date has told me these exact words: "Sleep? Five hours, that's all I need." Uh-huuuuuh. 

I couldn't help but think of these fellows when perusing an interview of Arianna Huffington and Kobe Bryant.

Philip Galenes (interviewer): Next up: Sleep. How much do you get?

KB: I’ve grown. I used to get by on three or four hours a night. I have a hard time shutting off my brain. But I’ve evolved. I’m up to six to eight hours now.

PG: What changed?

KB: Growing up and understanding the importance of shutting down and unwinding.

AH: Which is huge in a culture where people brag about how little sleep they get, like a macho thing: “Oh, I only need four hours.” And it coincides with the new science about the connections between sleep and health, cleaning out the toxins of the day, the connection between sleep deprivation and Alzheimer’s.

PG: Sounds like a miracle drug.

AH: But I was one of the delusional ones. It wasn’t until my wake-up call of collapsing from exhaustion in 2007 that I started prioritizing sleep.

PG: Any sleep rituals?

AH: My transition is a hot bath and absolutely no devices. All phones and computers are escorted out of my bedroom at least an hour before bed. And real books that have nothing to do with work.

Getting too little sleep results in . . . well, death, new studies are showing. Our bodies and minds need it. Claiming to be above sleep is just macho posturing. Macho posturing rarely ends well. 

I've heard from a number of people how they suffer from insomnia and are simply bad sleepers, but when I ask them what their sleep ritual is, they have none. Makeup doesn't just happen, healthy diets doesn't just happen, being fit doesn't just happen, and sleep doesn't just happen. There's even a term for it: sleep hygiene. If there is a nightly protocol, it works, studies also show.
Now how attractive is that?
Pack away anything with a screen, read or meditate to clear the mind, 3 mg of melatonin prior can also help, and go to bed and get up the same time.

It's okay. You can still be cool and sleep seven hours a night. 

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