-You can fall asleep on the floor at 7:00pm.
-You are asleep within seconds of hitting the bed.
-You have a horrible time staying awake after lunch.
-You are chugging down caffeine well after noon.
-You have difficulty waking up in the morning with an alarm or two.
-You are having difficulty concentrating.
-You have to pull over while driving to stay awake.
-You are more irritable, short tempered or violent.
Assuming you do not have a sleeping disorder, you could be a candidate for a SLEEP CAMP. Since Thomas Edison created the light bulb, things just have not been the same. The creation of the light bulb allows workers to work longer, families to vegetate in front of the television into the wee hours, and partiers to party hardy. All of this creates a sleep deficit.
This biological deficit needs to be repaid. If you don’t repay this debt within a reasonable amount of time you will experience the above mentioned behaviors or worse. Long term sleep debt can develop into a sleep disorder and has been linked to everything from schizophrenia to heart disease and cancer.
Hopefully your debt is manageable and you are a candidate for SLEEP CAMP. This is a three week project that needs your undivided attention and commitment. No waffling here. You need to let everyone know in your living quarters of your intentions. Roommates and weak sisters can sabotage your plans. Make it clear.
You will need that SUCCESS JOURNAL I often times refer to throughout this column. You will need to make this project a priority. You will need to document your sleep events in the journal. You will also need to reference the STANFORD SLEEPINESS SCALE (SSS) . The SSS ranks your perception of how sleepy you are during any given event.
During week one record how much you are currently sleeping. Take note of how you feel upon awakening and through the day with the SSS. Your journal should note bedtime and awaking, hours of sleep, and awaking during the night and dream events. If you are slamming coffee well into the afternoon begin to shut off the pot after 11:00. (NOTE: Yes, I do recall my position on coffee. I did use the word MODERATE with that endorsement.)
During week two start to repay your debt. Move your bedtime back an hour but get up at your normal time. Note any changes in your physical and mental performance. Check the results against week one. Are you waking up at your normal time more alert? Is your sense of well being enhanced?
Week three should be a continuation of week two. You should now have a handle on how much sleep makes you tick. You should have control of your coffee consumption. Your normal post lunch slows should not have an effect on your performance.
The education should let you know what your body and mind need in terms of sleep time. If you are a good student, you will learn to recognize when a sleep debt has occurred and you can make adjustments in bedtime or schedule a nap before the debt becomes too large.