Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Zzzzz Factor

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps….. invariably I am awake.

I took it in my stride but last night I had a good eight hours of sleep, and I realize what a difference it made. I got up refreshed and had this feel good factor. So is this what I have been missing? I have not been one to crib earlier. So what if one does not sleep? There are so many other things I could do. Read, solve a crossword, blog without disturbance, surf or watch TV ( which is a last option). But by the third day of sleep deprivation, I would become drowsy during the day, and the headaches would increase..

They say as you grow older sleeping patterns change and you sleep much less. If it held true for all those of my generation, I might not crib.  All of them sleep the minute the head touches the pillow. Some of them have a great respect for my ‘keeping awake’ ability.

As is my habit, I rushed to the web to check solutions for the problem. There appear to be zillion theories and solutions to match each one. But one thing I am assured and reassured is that I am not the only one. There are not too many statistics for sleep deprived Indians, but it seems that it is a major problem that plague many in the land of opportunity. Americans are known to spend $24 billion a year on sleep aids like mattresses, 600 thread count sheets, high end sound machines that simulate the surf or chirping birds.

It is evident that all of us need sleep. And one third of our lives is spent sleeping. So by the age of  70 one would have spent 20-23 of his years with his head to the pillow!

Thomas Edison thought sleep was a waste of time, boasting that he needed less than four hours of sleep. But he conveniently neglected to mention that he took regular naps during the day. Some feel that we owe the light bulb to one of Edison’s power naps that he took in the daytime. Napping in daytime has been found to be refreshing and productive. Some organisations even provide napping time for employees for better inputs from their employees. Do you work for such wonderful employers?

All that apart, I recognize that I have a huge ‘sleep debt’. I am a little confused whether I suffer from transient insomnia, intermittent insomnia or chronic insomnia.

I find that in normal times when the brain is awake, I do have this ability to switch off when I find subjects that are boring. If only I could find that slumber switch. It is not a term that I have coined. It appears that there are scientists who are toiling to find the ‘slumber switch’ in the brain.

I hope with last night’s sleep my sleeping pattern has changed. And it makes no sense to ponder and wonder and lose more sleep. I hope I have regained the Zzzz factor.

Picture source - library.thinkquest.org/.../Imagini/Sleep.jpg


  1. Good post. If I am deprived of sleep, it shows the next day. I get very crabby and irritable. I notice this the most when I have to take early morning flights. If my flight is at 6am, I have to be awake by 3am. Which means I should hit the sack by 8pm?! Does that ever happen? So I spend the rest of the day feeling woolly headed, groggy and bad tempered.

    There was a news item about a year back about how this 40 year old corporate hot shot guy in the prime of health, just fell down and died. No one could tell why. He did not have any health problems, exercised regularly and ate healthy. But then they realised that he didn't get his regular 8 hours. And that did him in.

  2. Sleep is essential. It plays an important part in maintaining good health.

  3. So, the night owl got to sleep well! :)

    By the way, let me know the name of the company which lets you nap in the office. :)

  4. I think we all require our daily quota of sleep.
    Those are brag about "I can do with no sleep" don't know what they are loosing.

  5. Age has a profound effect on sleep. At the extremes of age, infants and the elderly have frequent interruptions of sleep.
    German scientists at the University of Luebeck have demonstrated that our sleeping brains restructure memories before they are stored. According to their study, creativity and problem solving appear to be directly linked to adequate sleep.Insomnia has been associated with many problems, some of which are directly related to the individuals health in addition to significant social complications.There are higher divorce rates in people with sleep problems.
    Sleep well and save your marriage!

  6. You have weaved a very nice post after you have slept for 8 hours.I read that"it is always better to avoid reading, watching TV or fiddling with the laptop while in the bed. Once we get onto the bed, we should take a deep breath and allow ourselves 15 min window time for falling asleep. If the mind is clear and the body is co-operating, the normal person should feel asleep within this window time" Ofcourse keeping our mind free of stress, having an early dinner and as a ritual listening to soft music or saying a short prayer should lull us into sleep.
    My trick is however to do a hard sudoku and I am asleep within minutes.

  7. I have got sleep problem, Radha, since many years and worsening now! I think that is the reason I forget things all the time!

    Sleeping is very very important!

  8. Earlier I was famous for sleeping too much and now I find it weird when I dont get sleep easily..I think one reason is may be now I am very free, without much work, earlier i was busy.

  9. Deepa - I know that groggy feeling very well.
    SG - NOw, I know I need it too.
    Nona - the night owl does need sleep indeed :-)
    Haddock - I can manage for a while without sleep. But nothing to brag about for sure.
    Dr A - good advice
    KP - I should try the sudoku.
    Sandhya - :-) Forgetfulness is not always related to sleep, I think!
    Samvedna - The days I am most busy and active are days I find it most difficult to sleep. Strange.

  10. @ Sandhya: Love your comment! Its so cute! :) Next time I forget I something I will also say I didnt get enough sleep!

  11. I sleep like a log. Get my share of sleep most often, unless those once-a-while occasions when baby is cranky or when we have to travel early... It must feel awful being deprived of sleep!

  12. I see this problem with a particular age group.Those are the ones who are running a race to succeed and forget that one needs a breather too.
    Take it easy.We all need a good 8hrs of sleep.

  13. I have seen a definite change in my sleep-onset , from say 10 years ago when I was 50, and now. I was working then, very involved inside and outside the house, and would fall asleep the minute I lay down.

    I cant say the same now, and I feel the 8 hours thing isnt true for everyone. One of the things I enjoyed after retirement, with a vengeance, is a wonderful nap in the afternoon.

    My late mother had a theory. She never took a single sedative. But walked a lot. And she used to tell me, that the trick to getting good sleep at night, regardless of stresses and tensions, was to exert enough and more for your age, basically walk a lot. It seems to work .

    I also feel that the old theories of Vanaprasthashram had a point. Appropriate reassignment of priorities. We forget and ignore all that today, in the big rush to succeed......

  14. Nice post- lots of information on a subject that affects all of us some time or another.

    I'm like you, Radha- can't get to sleep easily at night.

    Have you tried any 'common' remedies, like having a glass of warm milk before bedtime or reading a very boring book, until you're drowsy?

    How did you sleep last night? :)

  15. Deepa - I thought so too!
    RGB - You are lucky. But I do remember sleeping well when the kids were small and juggling home, kids and work.
    BKC - I have passed that stage. So that is not the problem.
    UK - I do a lot of exercise, I am a fitness freak. And if I ever take that nap in the afternoon, I stay awake longer, so I avoid that.
    Manju - I tried all that! Well, I think my sleep pattern is a little better now.

  16. You forget to mention that you would spook your children by walking into their rooms into the middle of the night during one of your sleep deprived days! I shall give you my Economics textbook. GDP and GNP should surely knock you out :) Sleep well mother dearest.

  17. Ah ! Sleep ! Tell me about it !!!

    The Japs are supposed to have done with a few hours of sleep for a couple of decades.

    And then the next generation caught on to sleeping pills et al !

  18. i am one of those who can be tensed,sad,glad or cross with the world but would be able to sleep through the night. Even these days when i have to get up once or twice at night to use the restroom, I have no problem getting back my precious sleep within minutes if not seconds. There were two or may be three occasions however when I did not sleep even a bit in the night and the experience was horrible. I could not bring myself to read, watch TV or do anything productive. Counting sheep did not help. I just lay awake praying that I'd doze off but I did not. I hope this phase of getting 8 hours of sleep continues and becomes a routine.

  19. That's a lot of good information to know. Slumber switch in the brain - that would be nice!

  20. Yes, age has an impact on sleeping habit. But, you can overcome sleeping disorder by practicing Yoga.

  21. Serendipity - :-)
    Kavi - No sleeping pills here.
    Hip Grandma - You are indeed blessed.
    Indian Bazaar - I hope they identify that switch.. quick
    Jarlin Paul - yoga? Good idea.

  22. Sleep... I can't do with less of it. The more the better for me in fact. ;)


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