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Monday, March 11, 2013


As some of you know, on Mondays I now post to lift your spirits.  I was not aware that today is National Napping Day, something that has unofficially been official since 1989.  This day always falls the morning of the American March daylight time change where you get one hour less sleep.  I first wrote about the benefits of sleep in Chapter 2 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.

  • boosts alertness
  • improves learning and memory
  • increases creativity
  • boosts productivity
  • lifts your spirits
  • zaps stress
I can add three more:  improves your health (where also wounds and ailments recover better) extends your life and lowers your weight.  Well, at least more sleep means less weight.  In fact "short sleepers" have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 28.3, whereas "long sleepers" averaged 24.5.  The amazing thing is that overweight individuals use up 1,000 more calories per day...yet still gain more weight when the day is over.  No one in the medical profession says this, but I've noticed that if I go to sleep earlier I avoid that late night snack.  That alone can possibly account for my relatively ideal BMI.  In any case, Benjamin Franklin was wiser than I thought, for his "early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy and wise" now makes sense.

Of course, like most things in life, you need to also be careful about napping.  If your 15 minute to half an hour nap impacts on your ability to sleep well at night, don't!  The quality of your night sleep makes all the difference to your efficiency and longevity.  Short sleepers have a higher incidence of obesity, hypertension and diabetes.  If you wake up every hour for one reason or another, that is very bad, especially for those that can't immediately snooze off.  I noticed that when I walk 18 holes of golf, and am careful about minimizing my liquid intake after 8 PM, I can sometimes sleep through the night.  Dehydration is the reason, as I don't need to take a pee.  I also recently learned that you dream best when in deep sleep.  Plus, you remember them better if you are jerked out of this dream, like by an alarm clock.

Age and conditionSleep Needs
Newborns (0–2 months)12 to 18 hours[39]
Infants (3–11 months)14 to 15 hours[39]
Toddlers (1–3 years)12 to 14 hours[39]
Preschoolers (3–5 years)11 to 13 hours[39]
School-age children (5–10 years)10 to 11 hours[39]
Adolescents (10–17 years)8.5 to 9.25 hours[39][40]
Adults, including elderly7 to 9 hours[39]
I am now actually practicing what I preach.  I every so often take naps, generally in the early to mid-afternoon, and usually when I don't get enough the night before and have something to do at night.  If I keep the nap under 45 minutes, my night sleep does not seem to be affected.  Of course, I'm retired and can do what I want, but even if you work, take half an hour off at midday to enter into a light sleep.  There is a good reason why many countries (more people practice naps than not) around the world do this.  Americans are just too consumed and will in time become wiser about this.

A good way to educate people about sleep is to end the insanity of daylight savings time.  Thankfully, Hawaii (and Arizona) doesn't observe this switch. First, it should be relatively easy to change the March adjustment from Sunday night to Saturday night.   But why waste any time about it:  immediately abolish this foolishness, for only 20% of the the world bothers with it.  Have you tried travelling long distances on that special Fall Sunday or Spring Monday when computers are not totally re-adusted?  Chaos.  Today is about the most dangerous Monday morning in the USA.  Heart attacks are more likely, traffic accidents are almost 10% higher, workplace accidents are more common, suicides spike up, cyberloafing increases and human health is jeopardized. Just as bad, do you realize you will need to change the time on all your electronic devices. While some are smart enough to do this for you, that obsolete videotape recorder with a clock will be a serious challenge.


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