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Sleep Challenge 2010: How Sleep Is Like Steroids ...Without the 'Roid Rage'

After finally getting eight hours of sleep a night, I was surprised to discover that getting enough sleep also helps you exercise better.

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But, as Nia shows, it's not easy. She made a classic rookie mistake -- and fell prey to one of my worst temptations: getting on the computer or Blackberry in bed, just to, you know, check what's going on. (In her case, it was Twitter.) An hour later, or two in Nia's case, you're not only still awake, but you're Really Awake. At least when she was going through the motions like a zombie the next morning, she was reading the Huffington Post. But Nia, while we welcome the clicks, we'd rather have well-rested readers -- and so, I'm sure, would our advertisers!

So make an appointment with sleep, and don't let yourself wiggle out of it. Or tell me when you need to be asleep and I'll tweet you to stop tweeting.

Over the last eight days, there have been hundreds of great comments to our sleep posts, -- and I'd love to respond to a few of them. It's clear from the response that our sleep challenge has touched a tired nerve.

flow555 writes:

Thanks for giving light to this very important issue.

I have spent time in both worlds -- the sleep deprived one-- and the one with good "sleep hygiene."

After my near-melt down as an overwrought, stressed-out, time-starved working mom -- I had no choice -- if I wanted to restore my health and balance -- I had to get more sleep. (And change jobs, relationship, eating habits, commuting time, and end negative self-talk -- but
that's another story).

Really this is about becoming a more conscious person. As I have been on my own healing journey, I can see how cheating myself out of proper sleep -- led to all sorts of problems-- clarity and peace being just a couple of the sacrifices I did not even know I was making."

That's a great point: sleep is at the core of the health-and-balance battle. If it's not going well, not much else will either.

texgal7 writes:

My husband can drink coffee all day long, have a cup before bed, and then immediately go to sleep and sleep soundly for as long as he wants. He thinks it runs in his family.

To that I'd say: I'm jealous! But even if it's true, as Cindi wrote last week: "Even those people who believe they can drink an espresso after dinner and be just fine aren't getting the quality sleep they would without the java." So if you're sleeping well with coffee, you could be sleeping great without it.

dragonfur writes:

I wish my lack of sleep was as simple (ha ha) as a lack of sleepiness. It is instead, a lack of time. I get through with my day's chores around 10:30 or 11:00 pm, and my day starts again at 4:00 am. If I take time to get on my computer, well, that cuts into those 5 hours.

I would like to get more sleep, but unfortunately, my bosses don't approve of sleeping at my computer! Seems like that's the only place I COULD fit in more sleep. (sigh)

Sorry to hear that, dragonfur. As you show, work demands are the primary cause of sleep deprivation for many. This is especially true during a recession, when people have fewer options. But even given these demands, there are ways to maximize the sleep that your schedule does allow. Here are recommendations from Dr. Breus, Dr. Lipman, and Dr. Hyman. And I hope your schedule can change for the better soon, dragonfur.

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