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The Promise of Sleep

All wakefulness is sleep deprivation; You build up sleep debt over the course of the day, and then pay it off as you sleep that night

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Notes and excerpts from The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep by William C. Dement, PhD., Stanford University

This is the definitive book on sleep!  It is loaded with gems: Your sleep drive keeps an exact tally of accumulated waking hours. Like bricks in a backpack, accumulated sleep drive is a burden that weighs down on you. Every hour that you are awake adds another brick to the pack. The brain’s sleep load increases until you go to sleep when the load starts to lighten.

The author emphasizes that your brain keeps an exact accounting of how much sleep it is owed.  Each successive night of partial sleep loss is carried over and the end effect appears to accumulate in a precisely additive fashion. Accumulated lost sleep is like a monetary debt: “It must be paid back.”

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Overthrowing Our Biological Clocks

In just a few decades of technological innovation we have managed to totally overthrow our magnificently evolved biological clocks and the complex biorhythms they regulate.

Our loss of sleep time and natural rhythms is the tragic legacy of a single and profound advance-the light bulb. Electric lights not only let people stay up longer, they also were bright enough to mimic the light and significantly shift people’s internal biological clocks. When bedtime shifted to 10 or 11 p.m. instead of 8 or 9 p.m., midnight was no longer the middle of the night.

The incandescent bulb marked the beginning of the modern era of sleeplessness, and Edison was by no means ignorant of the implications of his breakthrough. A restless genius and experimenter, Edison believed that too much sleep was bad for you. Edison thought that people got twice as much sleep as they needed and the extra sleep made them “unhealthy and inefficient.”

Sunlight Had Been the Standard

Edison’s invention of bright electric lights threw a wrench into the human clockworks. Over millions of years, our bodies and minds had evolved using sunlight as a Universal Standard Time (UST), as the infallible index against which we set our internal clock.

We have grown so accustomed to living year round in an artificial summer of light, with long days and short nights, that it is difficult to image life before electric lights and contemporary work schedules. Our bodies, however, have not forgotten. Can we believe that in 100 years our bodies can so easily change needs buried deep within the workings of each cell?

Many people work long hard hours throughout the week hoping to catch up on sleep over the weekend. They collapse in the bed on Friday night and sleep deeply until late in the morning. Even though they have paid back several hours of sleep debt, they walk around like zombies all day Saturday, barely able to stay awake. The reason is obvious: you cannot pay back a weeks worth of sleep debt in one night. Less obvious: the stressful arousal of the weekday work place is no longer masking sleep debt on Saturday. As people tend to drink and eat more on weekends, their sleep fighting arousal is further suppressed.

Deprivation

All wakefulness is sleep deprivation. You build up sleep debt over the course of the day, and then pay it off as you sleep that night. If you get an hour less than you need, you carry an hour of sleep debt into the next day, and your drive for sleep becomes stronger. Sleep debt accumulates in an additive fashion, so that if you get one hour less sleep than you need for each of eight nights your brain will then tend toward sleep as strongly as if you had stayed up all night.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Faith

A Nation of Unsung Heroes

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The movie, Unsung Hero, is not only a great movie. It’s a movie that captures the struggle and hard-earned survival and eventual success of millions of Americans who have had to overcome struggles to earn their own American Dream. For two centuries, Americans have been known for their resourcefulness and resilience, and we are not done yet!

We are again living in difficult and challenging times. Surveys suggest that nearly 60% of American families are living paycheck to paycheck. Their solutions to their plight won’t be coming from politicians in Washington. Their success, as always, depends on their will and resourcefulness in overcoming daily obstacles, their ability to survive on limited resources, their scrounging for work that allows them to survive another day, and help from those who care.

That common but heart-rending struggle is conveyed in an inspiring way in Unsung Hero. The film focuses on the early struggles of the Smallbone family in the early 90’s. We watch as David Smallbone’s once-thriving music business as a concert promoter in Australia falls apart. They lose their home, their car, and their life’s savings. With no opportunities in Australia, David moves the family halfway around the world to Nashville to secure the only job he could secure. After missed flights and a long and tiring journey to Tennessee, David learns that his promised job had been given to someone else.

As their dreams fall apart, you watch as the steady faith and creativity of Helen Smallbone, played by Australian actress and mother Daisy Betts, pulls the family through one setback and challenge after another to find a way through. With six children and another on the way, every member of the family is challenged to do their part to keep them afloat. They do yard work, any work that would fill their jar of savings. They couldn’t let it be empty, and they didn’t. They kept finding a way.

They were Australians with no friends, no family, no car, sleeping on beds made out of clothes. To nurture their faith, they began attending a local church. Aware of their needs, church members found ways to help in any way they could. In a foreign country living in a city with over half-a million people, it took finding a loving faith community who cared enough to help. Watch the movie, to find out the rest of the story. Bring plenty of tissue and be ready for a few tears along the way.

America needs this movie right now. Why? Too many people are feeling hopeless in the face of growing inflation and lost jobs. They face frustrating obstacles and enormous challenges, and the answer is summed up by a quotation of Mother Teresa shared in the movie, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Luke Smallbone, the producer of the film, acknowledged the importance of that truth, “That is really the heartbeat behind the film.” It is also the local solution that has always helped Americans find their way through-the power of family and the presence and support of their local “family of God.”

Washington may send you money, but they can’t provide the flexible and persistent support needed. It’s one’s local family, friends, and faith communities who can encourage resilience and help shape a needed recovery. Solutions come from a local community’s caring and support. It used to always be that way, and it needs to be that way again.

Our nation is full of unsung heroes who are helping their family and friends, and they are more needed than ever. If you don’t have anyone helping you, stop looking to Washinton for the help that will never come no matter who is elected President. Get involved again in your family and your community. Call your family and let them know you need help. Get back involved in your church or synagogue and let God work through them to help you get back on your feet. Investing in community is an adventure that allows you to help and be helped to the glory of God and country.

When you get involved, you most likely will not make any headlines. That is left for terrorists, violent demonstrators, and other disasters and threats out of your control. But America is strong because of millions of unsung heroes who make it all work and seldom get acknowledged. This column is dedicated to you. You deserve to be honored and applauded for all you have done and will do to keep America the country it has been and must remain. May it continue to be so in your adventure!
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Family

More Breathing Space Tips for January

Time flies, but you can stay in control

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A week of the new year and of the new month has passed. What other Breathing Space tips will help give you a sense of control?

[ ] On each trip to the supermarket, shop for at least two food items that are new to you or your family.

[ ] Eat in-season fruits that are high in citrus and bioflavonoids, such as oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines. You need your Vitamin C in the winter! Also, take a multivitamin.

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[ ] Tackle all household repair jobs before spring. Handle one project per week.

[ ] If the roads are clear, take one new route from work each week.

[ ] Enroll in a course at your local college, and take advantage of mid-afternoon or evening time slots. Most evening classes are smaller, allowing for more class discussion and individual attention.

[ ] Take advantage of all the post-holiday bargains. Buy in bulk and buy off-season items when the price is right.

[ ] Go ahead and schedule that spa treatment you’ve been wanting to take.

[ ] Give your body a treat, go to sleep early at least one night per week.

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