Sunday, March 6, 2011

The critical importance of a good night's sleep

Which do you think is more important to working at your peak - food or sleep? According to this article from the Harvard Business Review, sleep is much more important and most of us don't get nearly enough. Read on and be prepared to be surprised.

We continue to live by a remarkably durable myth: sleeping one hour less will give us one more hour of productivity. In reality, the research suggests that even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity and our productivity.

Many of the effects we suffer are invisible. Insufficient sleep, for example, deeply impairs our ability to consolidate and stabilize learning that occurs during the waking day. In other words, it wreaks havoc on our memory.

So how much sleep do you need? When researchers put test subjects in environments without clocks or windows and ask them to sleep any time they feel tired, 95 percent sleep between seven and eight hours out of every 24. Another 2.5 percent sleep more than eight hours. That means just 2.5 percent of us require less than 7 hours of night a sleep to feel fully rested. That's 1 out of every 40 people.

When I ask people in my talks how many had fewer than 7 hours of sleep several nights during the past week, the vast majority raise their hands. That's true whether it's an audience of corporate executives, teachers, cops or government workers. We've literally lost touch with what it feels like to be fully awake.

Great performers are an exception. Typically, they sleep significantly more than the rest of us. In Anders Ericcson's famous study of violinists, the top performers slept an average of 8 ½ hours out of every 24, including a 20 to 30 minute mid-afternoon nap some 2 hours a day more than the average American.

You can continue reading the article here and learn about some tips to help you get the recommended 8 to 9 hours of sleep you need each night. Maybe you'll have better luck at it than me.

(jbl).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2011/03/the-critical-importance-of-a-good-nights-sleep.html

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