Saturday, 26 June 2010

The Importance of a Good Night's Sleep

Did you know that 120 years ago the average person slept 10-12 hours a night? Now it's more like 6-8 hours for most. We know that people function better and are healthier and less prone to depression when well rested. And yet, we continue to deprive ourselves of this very basic need.

I, for one, suffer for lack of sleep. The rest of my family seem content to sleep 7 hours or less, while I struggle with it. Why is it we have so much less time for sleeping? Before electricity and central plumbing people had many more chores to do to keep a family going--farming, to outside work, sewing/knitting, cleaning, food preparation, even getting water were much more labour intensive activities. So why do we have less time now?

I'd guess that there are hidden time costs with many technologies. We are tuned into (and addicted to) screen activities, such as maintaining a blog, catching up on email, online social networking, video games and television. We are celebrity obsessed, or so it would seem each time I visit the grocery store and see all the magazines at the checkout. Our kids are enrolled in structured after-school activities. We need to spend time backing up hard drives, taking the car into the garage for maintenance, going to more medical appointments than ever, and so forth. We travel further and more often.

I find that once the kids are asleep, I have an urge to "catch up" on email, Facebook, Twitter, my website, blogging, etc. Then I want to spend a little time with my husband. By then it is often midnight or later, and we need to get up early to start all over again. And life zooms by as I struggle to wake up and catch up. In living this way, I miss things and lack the patience my family deserves. It is time for a change.

120 years ago, life was hard yes, but simpler. (Warning: sleep-deprivation caused cliches ahead!)
"Work hard, play hard"; "early to bed and early to rise". We could use a little less complexity in our lives, or at least, I certainly could! After all, "life is not a race". It's easier to "smell the roses along the way" if you're not so bleary-eyed with sleep deprivation that you miss them altogether. So if I don't update my blog daily, or miss a day on Twitter or Facebook, you'll know it is because I have decided to try and get a good night's sleep. Maybe you can too!