Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Don't Get Lazy About Your Sleep

Our society isn't big on napping. In fact, when someone chooses to take a nap, we wonder if they had a late night, or if, perhaps, they are getting sick. The mere mention of a tradition of siestas in countries like Spain simply boggles our minds.

If only we understood the power of sleep.

Yesterday, I read a short article in Glamour magazine (February 2010) on a sleep challenge that was lead by Arianna Huffington and Cindi Leive. Last year, they both resolved to sleep at least seven and a half hours a night. For Huffington, the choice was a necessary one. "I got up from my desk and fainted from exhaustion, hitting my head, breaking my cheekbone, and having five stitches... I knew I had to put more priority on sleep," said Huffington.

Studies have shown that the human body needs about seven and a half hours to function properly. For many parents, especially those with small children, this isn't often the norm. Lack of sleep causes a greater susceptibility to illness, poor decision making, and weight gain. Huffington writes, in her article Sleep Challenge 2010: How Sleep Is Like Steroids... Without the 'Roid Rage, "Our sleep consultant, Dr. Michael Breus, has shown how getting more sleep can actually help you lose weight more effectively than exercise, but I've been finding the two are wonderfully compatible." In addition, lack of sleep paves the way for less satisfaction at work, less productivity, and less sex. As Leive states in the Glamour article, "sleep deprivation is a strategy cults use to physically impede the decision making abilities of their members... do we want to be cult members, nodding yes to every bad idea thrown our way?"

While Huffington and Leive started the sleep challenge over a year ago, the idea is still a good one. Try to take the Sleep Challenge for one month, and see how you feel. I have been getting eight hours for the past few weeks, unaware of the article or the sleep challenge, and the difference is amazing. 

Need help? Click here to read the Sleep Challenge guidelines set in place by Dr. Oz.

Tiffany Palisi is a freelance writer and the author of the book, "Mama's World: Essays From the Inside Out." She has interviewed actresses, designers, and entertainers; her favorites include Cynthia Rowley, Patricia Arquette, Tea Leoni, and children's singer Dan Zanes. She is a contributing writer for Mountain Lakes Living magazine. Palisi lives with her family in New Jersey.

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