February 6 -The Power of Sleep

“[Sleep is] the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” – Thomas Decker

This past week I read about a study done on High School students. The conclusion of the study was that when Districts start the day later for students in grades 9-12, their performance increases dramatically. By starting the day later, teens were more likely to get the amount of sleep they needed to maintain growth, and school performance. I had read about a similar study done about 20 years ago. Around that time I was teaching a class on Time Management for Busy Teens, and one of my themes was that they needed to sleep more to improve their performance, and be better able to manage the demands on their time. It was counter-intuitive to them because they thought that they needed to get by on less sleep in order to complete all that was on their plate.

In the early 2000s I worked for a director who took over a failing IT program. The program had a consistent record of missed deadlines, budget overruns, and unusually high error rates. Among the many changes he implemented was to cut back overtime. Not because he wanted people to work for free, but because he wanted them to work a reasonable day, then go home. He actually wanted them to work less hours. His theory was that the longer they worked, the less effective they became. He wasn’t dreaming this up on his own, there is actually a body of research to support that notion. Within months, thanks to all the measures he put in place, the program began performing well and meeting its objectives.

I have become good at listening to my body. When my body truly needs sleep, I get my sleep. It might mean that I miss a morning workout in favor of extra sleep, but I know in the long run it is worth it. What gets me frustrated is when I know that I have has sufficient sleep, but I still resist the workout. Those mornings I feel unaccomplished.

What I do know is that my body needs 6.5 to 7.5 hours of high-quality sleep on a consistent basis in order to maintain a high level of function. When I short-change that, I see the difference in all aspects of my life.

Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday. I also attended a birthday party. I elected not to obsess about my food, or worry about counting food. I made smart choices along the way, but basically I relaxed and enjoyed the day. For the rest of this week I plan to stay within my daily points, and make sure I don’t dip into any of my weekly allotment. This morning (listening to my body), I slept in. My gym bag will be packed and in my car for a post-work workout.

Bobby-C’s thought for the day…When I sleep well, I perform well. Last night I enjoyed restorative sleep that will fuel my day.

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