I'll tell you what, folks, I love my sleep. More than that, I need my sleep. As my friends and co-workers can attest to, I do not function without my seven to eight hours a night.
In college, I may have been known for banging on the walls when my neighbors were being too loud at my bed time. (Fortunately for me, these neighbors were also friends who knew me well enough not to take it personally.) During recent coverage in Mobile, AL when the cruise ship Triumph limped in, I fronted 20-plus live shots in 24 hours on about two hours of sleep. At one point when pre-recording a segment, I literally could not string words together to make a coherent sentence. It kept the producers back at the station highly entertained.
No, exhaustion is not kind to me. When I reach an extreme point of exhaustion - and subsequently stress - my body systematically shuts down. A few years ago, I went to my doctor, convinced I had contracted some rare disease in which my brain was slowly melting away to the consistency of putty, taking my body with it and turning me into what would surely be a first-generation zombie.
When I listed off all the events in what had been a particularly grueling month in my professional and personal life, she shook her head and sent me to bed.
"Liz, you're physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted," she told me. "You don't need a doctor. You need rest."
She didn't even run a test. Turns out, she was right. After a week of self-imposed hermit living, I felt like me again.
I say all this with full knowledge that I am a type-A personality with a tendency to burn the candle at both ends, working in a business that never sleeps. I also realize that parents - and my co-workers on the morning shift - are laughing at this blog post and thinking, "Sleep? What's that?"
But, sleep - and plenty of it - has to be a part of our lives somewhere. Don't just take my word for it.
I recently read an interesting article from Health.com via the Huffington Post. It listed 11 surprising benefits of sleep which included things like improved memory, better learning abilities, weight control and more creativity.
If the HuffPost isn't good enough for you, take a look at what the CDC says on its website:
"Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression—which threaten our nation's health. Notably, insufficient sleep is associated with the onset of these diseases and also poses important implications for their management and outcome."
That doesn't even touch the fact that driving while exhausted can make you almost as dangerous as a drunk driver.
Even if you are among the overworked masses that have never had a normal REM cycle, there is hope. According to WebMD, a 20 minute power nap can do wonders to help refresh your mind and body when you're in a crunch. The same article suggests a power nap can be even more effective than a cup of coffee- so you can cut down on the caffeine jitters.
So here's to a few more zzz's in the future- hopefully.
And if you're looking for even more information on sleep, here's a link provided by Pennington Biomedical Research Facility, http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/portal/.