It’s a paradox that whilst the country has never been wealthier, people are working more than ever and we try and pack ever more social and personal commitments with family and friends in the limited time that we have. As the world speeds up, it’s ever more important for you to have peak physical energy and mental ability on tap. But sometimes quite frankly it can be a bit of a struggle.
Well according to James Mass (Professor of Psychology at Cornell University and author of “Power Sleep”) the answer to help boost your peak performance may be eliminating the overdraft in your sleep “bank account”. This overdraft could be sapping you of energy, creative thinking, good health and happiness. Now on the one hand people such as Margaret Thatcher are able to thrive with less than 4 hours per night sleep. On the other hand Einstein required 10 hours sleep per night. Interestingly, apparently our natural body clock oscillates on a cycle time of around 25 hours – without time cues experimental subjects went to sleep one hour later each night. Personally I feel exhausted if I don’t get at least 8 hours sleep – and I have to use an alarm clock and two mobile phone alarms to drag me from my slumbers.
Sleep deprivation diagnosis
Perhaps you might wish to take a quick diagnosis by answering the following YES/ NO questions:
- Do you sometimes feel tired, irritable or stressed out during the week?
- Do you have problems concentrating and remembering?
- Do you feel slow with critical thinking, problem solving and being creative?
- Do you need an alarm clock to wake up at the appropriate time?
- Do you find it somewhat of a struggle for you to get out of bed in the morning?
- Do you hit the snooze button several times during weekday mornings?
- Do you feel drowsy whilst driving in the evenings?
- Do you use caffeine to stay away awake?
If you answered yes to 4 or more questions, then you could well be suffering from sleep deprivation.
The Golden Rules for “Power Sleep”
Dr. Maas has some very simple and powerful “golden rules” to help you get peak performance from life. So here goes:
Get an adequate amount of sleep each night
Work out your personal “sleep quotient” (see below) and then make sure you get that amount of sleep each night. For most people today that means getting 60 to 90 more minutes sleep each night than they are currently getting.
Establish a regular sleep schedule
Go to bed at the same time every night – even weekends! Once you are getting your natural sleep quotient each night, you shouldn’t need an alarm clock. Don’t try and catch up for lost sleep at the weekends (a bad habit I have I’m afraid). If you sleep late on a Sunday, it will be a struggle to get a great night’s sleep on Sunday night. Sadly your brain doesn’t have a different biological clock for the working work and the weekends.
Get continuous sleep
For sleep to be fully restorative, it should be taken in one single continuous block. 6 hours of solid sleep can be much better than 8 hours of broken sleep.
Make up for lost sleep
Think of your sleep like your bank balance. If you go overdrawn, it pays to get back into credit as soon as possible. Sleep loss is cumulative, if you lose several hours on a given night, you will become more and more sleepy in the ensuing days, even though you get your “normal” sleep. So pay back your sleep debt. To catch up, try going to bed earlier than usual or if that’s difficult try a nap during the day can help you pay back your sleep debt.
So how much sleep do you need?
Here is Dr. Maas’ technique for calculating your personal “SQ” (Sleep Quotient):
Start by selecting a bedtime when you are likely to be able to fall asleep easily. Settle on a time at least eight hours before you need to get up. Maintain that bedtime for the next week and keep track of the time you arise. You might wake up too early for a few days if you’ve been conditioned to a short sleep schedule, but if you’re sleep-deprived, that maladaptive conditioning will soon give way to longer sleep.
If you haven’t been sleeping enough, don’t change your rising time. Instead, go to bed thirty minutes earlier than usual for the next week. Add fifteen to thirty more minutes each week until you wake without an alarm clock and feel alert all day.
When you establish your correct bedtime, you might try to cut fifteen minutes and see if that procedures feelings of drowsiness the next day. Then you’ll know for sure if you’ve identified your individual sleep requirement.
[Source: www.powersleep.org]. Now if you are like me, you are probably wondering how you can get this amount of sound sleep. If you want to learn some great strategies for getting a better night’s sleep go to http://www.powersleep.org/ .
More great strategies for a great night’s sleep
If you want to learn more about great sleeping strategies, tips for exhausted parents of young children and minimising the impact of jet lag (and everything you ever wanted to know about getting a great night’s sleep) then get hold of a copy of “Power Sleep” by Dr. James B. Maas from Amazon J Having just looked at them, I think I’m going to have to ditch my bad habit of watching episodes of 24 where Jack Bauer saves the world on the hour last thing at night 😉