Feeling stupid? Time for a nap!

>> August 20, 2007

I got a gift subscription to a new magazine for parents called WonderTime. I love this magazine!!! But I'm not writing this to tell you about the magazine. I am writing it to tell you about an article in the magazine called "The Twilight Zone: Why do those sleepless nights with a newborn feel like torture? Because they are." by Pete Nelson. If you want to read the whole article (especially you new moms-to-be) go to: http://wondertime.go.com/learning/article/new-parent-sleep-deprivation.html

The author talks about sleep deprivation for new parents, but basically states that anyone experiencing less than 8 hours of sleep a night is sleep deprived. Here are some quotes from the article...

Sleep deprivation is often said to be like torture. Sleep deprivation is not like torture. It literally is torture, employed historically to inflict psychological pain and/or extract confessions. Babies probably don't mean to torture us (and couldn't be held accountable if they did since few, if any, are signatories to the Geneva Conventions). The key word is "deprivation." Unlike insomnia, where you're too wired or stressed to fall or stay asleep, deprivation is a bit like the oft-repeated experiment in which rats are placed on an overturned flowerpot in the middle of a bucket of water. They can balance on the pot, even doze lightly, but as soon as they enter REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and go limp, they fall off the pot and into the water, thus losing sleep's restorative powers. Within days, formerly docile lab animals morph into hyperaggressive psychotic rat-maniacs that fight with each other and bite the kindly lab workers. Humans suffering from sleep deprivation don't do much better than rats. When the USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese torpedo during WWII, nearly 900 men spent up to five sleepless days in the water. Because their life jackets didn't support their heads, they nodded face-first into the water when they hit REM. Within 48 hours, survivors were hallucinating, dreaming while wide awake, fighting viciously for a place in the life rafts, and attacking each other with knives. Most new parents stop short of actual knife attacks, but the marital strain is nevertheless significant...
Sleep deprivation makes you stupid, and once you're stupid, it's harder to tell just how stupid you are, as suggested by an experiment done at the University of Pennsylvania's sleep lab. In tests over a 14-day period, researchers asked four groups of volunteers to observe a computer screen and match certain numbers to symbols as quickly as possible. One group slept eight hours a night, one six, the third four, and a fourth group experienced three nights of acute sleep deprivation. Subjects sleeping four hours performed worse than those sleeping six, and both performed worse than those sleeping eight. Surprisingly, though, the four-hour and six-hour groups performed almost as poorly as the acutely deprived group, with slower reaction times and complete lapses of attention. And here's the scary part: When volunteers rated their own levels of fatigue and performance, the deprived groups said they felt lousy but failed to notice just how far down the mental drain they were...
That's what we all say(I'm fine, just a little sleepy), and we're all mostly wrong, because the first thing that goes is our judgment. Sleeping gives the brain downtime to encode and shift information to more efficient long-term storage areas, effectively clearing the loading dock for tomorrow's shipment of fresh data. Sleep restriction inhibits those functions and makes it hard to integrate facts or solve complex problems. We make errors of both commission and omission. We have slower response times, attention lapses, give up on tasks prematurely, or foolishly persist even though we know we're going to fail. We make bad decisions, including that we can get by on six hours of sleep a night. We minimize the costs and write them off as minor mistakes. Minor mistakes, however, can have major consequences. Experts believe the disasters involving the Challenger, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the gas leak at Bhopal were all partly attributable to sleep-deprived workers. You could argue that raising a child isn't as important as running a nuclear power plant; just don't try arguing that with a parent, because you'll lose.

I don't think we realize just how important 8 hours of sleep is. I think I would be a better mom, better wife, better at just about everything if I wasn't sleep deprived. Here is the good news...

Fortunately even a 20-minute nap can recover lost IQ points for a while, and the technology exists to more permanently correct the problem. This device can, after about two or three weeks of regular use, for about eight hours a day, restore us to our former optimal cognitive functioning. You probably already have one in your own home. It's called a bed.

At least sleep deprivation doesn't cause permanent damage. I think the hispanic culture got it right with Siesta time. So the next time you lose something or forget to do something you were supposed to do, you have a clinically proven reason instead of an excuse - you need more sleep!

2 responses:

Christy August 20, 2007 at 9:46 PM  

ok so the other day I was so tired that I was "stupid." I asked Dan twice where Ryanne was in this crowd we were in and very calmy he pointed out that I was infact holding her hand. Now thats scray! I agree about the nap thing and often tell my girls that if they leave me alone for 10 minutes to close my eyes they will have a nice mommy again! :)

Jessica August 22, 2007 at 8:49 AM  

Interesting article. The sleep deprivation is what I'm not looking forward to... I am savoring this time right now where I'm not working and sleeping 9 hours a night. If only I could stockpile it somehow and use it in the upcoming months :) At least with just one baby I can hopefully nap when he does!

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