Friday, June 19, 2009

500 Minutes from Freshness!

Do you know an infamously grumpy person? Anyone come to mind? Believe it or not, after possibly many years of tiredness, grumpiness and intolerance, as well as a vast array of other hellish symptoms, all can be made right again after a series of 500 minute investments… of sleep!

Road Transport Safety and Fatigue expert, Dr. Nick Mabbott, gave a talk on Fatigue and Worker Behaviour at the gathering of the Western Australian Safety Culture Network on 19 June 2009, saying grumpy, intolerant people are almost always overtired.

Sleep – a Delicate Balance

Nick spoke on sleep, and the fact that without an average of 7.5 to 8 hours sleep per night we run the risk of a shortened life, including Diabetes Type 2, heart disease, sleep apnoea etc.

Sleep serves so many health and wellbeing purposes. In fact, the five stages of sleep are each important for different reasons--and we need five 90-minute (five stage) cycles of sleep to feel refreshed when we awaken.

Importantly, it’s stages 3 and 4 that provide for body repair and stage 5 (REM--Rapid Eye Movement) is important for memory retention and mental processing, amongst other things. If the body is routinely short of sleep (6 hours of sleep or less per night on average) it will prefer REM sleep. We hence miss out on our ‘beauty sleep.’ We’ll then age quicker. It’s quite simple according to Nick; routinely skimp on sleep and you’ll only look older earlier and die younger as a result.

The Magic ‘500’

With five periods of 90-minutes banked together required--totalling to 450-minutes all up--we might also include some time in actually getting to sleep as there are many who find it difficult to fall asleep. Time at the other end might also be needed. The magic figure ‘500’ is a good standard to aim towards.

Can’t get to sleep?

If we’re likely to stew about things and can’t get to sleep for hours why wouldn’t we get up and write it out at the kitchen table? Instead of running all the thoughts repetitively through our minds we should do something with them. This way we might actually (finally) get some sleep. After doing this we should then have a drink of warm milk, and take a warm shower--simulating again the important pre-conditions required to sleep.

Alcohol and Caffeine

Even in small amounts, alcohol and caffeine play havoc with our sleep patterns--alcohol interferes with our deep sleep and caffeine (within 5-hours of sleep) makes it difficult to fall asleep. It is recommended that we have no more than three caffeinated drinks a day.

Fatigue and Depression

There is a strong scientific correlation now between fatigue and depression; where one occurs, the other is certainly not far away it seems. There’s one good reason to get our sleep. We’re not only healthier in body, but in mind as well.

Sleep Deprivation Kills People

Don’t underestimate the amount of people who die (particularly on the roads) due to a lack of sleep. Little do most people actually know that once we advance from the weariness of stage 1 sleep into stage 2--wherever we are and whatever we’re doing--there’s nothing to prevent us from actually falling asleep (even for a second or two)… let us not be in dangerous situations at the same time!

Couldn’t you go ‘500’ just now?

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.

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