Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Good sleep is more important than you may realize.
Here’s how to get all you need, with
special tips and resources for insomniacs.

Seventy million Americans have one or more sleep disorders, with insomnia being the most widespread. Notes The Recovery Village, “Thirty percent of adults experience short-term insomnia and 10 percent have long-lasting insomnia.”

“Insomnia is a glamorous term for thoughts
you forgot to have in the day.” – Alain de Botton

I began to do sleep research years ago when I was writing about this topic in one of my crafts business books. I learned that creative-thinking people often suffer from insomnia caused by an overactive mind that won’t shut down at night. But professional craftspeople, artists, writers, and other creative people also lose sleep simply because they work too many hours a week.

I used to be one of those people—a workaholic who for years pushed herself to the limit to meet one writing or publishing deadline after another. What I learned from the above research went into an article I just updated, titled “Why Creative People are Sleep-Deprived—and What to Do about It.” It will speak to many of you with its links to excellent sleep-related articles and resources. 

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

It’s a myth that seniors need less sleep, even though many function well with less than the experts advise. I’m one of them. Somehow, I’ve remained healthy into my eighties after years of sleeping much less than the recommended eight hours a night for the past forty years. For many of my most challenging book-writing years, I often worked 8 to 10 hours a day on only four or five hours of sleep because nothing propelled me more than a publisher’s deadline I had to meet. I’m still propelled by deadlines, but at least I’m setting them myself.

I’m sleeping much better now than in years past because I’ve rid myself of several life stressors I once had. Even so, I rarely get (or seem to need) more than six hours of sleep. Yet I have abundant energy, never get sleepy during the day, and never take a nap unless I’m down with a cold or some other malady.

The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep

From the abundance of helpful sleep-related information online, I liked this article from the Cleveland Clinic simply titled “Sleep.” It defines and explains sleep and the things that go on in your body only when you’re asleep. I learned that the number of hours of sleep that are good for one’s health can change during their lifetime, but adults (regardless of age) are advised to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. If you sleep less than this, naps count, but we are advised to be careful they don’t disrupt our regular sleep cycle. 

Another article on WebMD emphasized that too little sleep can lead to impaired memory and physical performance: “Without adequate sleep, your brain has a harder time absorbing and recalling new information.” Some experts also believe that neurons shut down and repair themselves during sleep, and without enough sleep, these neurons may become polluted and begin to malfunction. Sleep also gives the brain a chance to refresh neuronal connections that might otherwise deteriorate, which explains why you may find it hard to think clearly when you have gotten too little sleep the night before.

We each have to resolve this problem for ourselves. I used to worry about not getting enough sleep, but several years ago I decided that worrying about my insomnia was probably more harmful to my mental health than lack of sleep itself, so I stopped worrying about it. I’ve found that the more I simplify my life and the fewer deadlines I set for myself, the better and longer I sleep.

Here are some thoughts to ponder when you get tired of counting sheep:

“My bed is a magical place where I suddenly
remember everything I forgot to do.” – Kim Garst

“Sleeplessness comes when my thoughts
outweigh the night.” – Terri Guillemets

“Insomnia is a gross feeder. It will nourish itself
on any kind of thinking, including thinking
about not thinking.” – Clifton Fadiman

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First published as a Brabec Bulletin, February 6, 2024.

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