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Friday, March 23, 2012

Early to Bed, Early to Rise= A Wizard

We know the proverbs. Early to bed and early to rise make a woman healthy, wealthy and a wizard. Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Here’s some current medical statistics to back up the old maxims.

“The evidence that sleep deprivation adversely affects cognition and motor performance is striking. One study [published in the Western Journal of Medicine] showed that people who were awake for up to 19 hours scored substantially worse on performance and alertness than those who were legally intoxicated.”

“A growing body of medical evidence links inadequate sleep with anger, anxiety, and sadness. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that when study subjects were only allowed to sleep 4.5 hours a night for one week, they reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted, with overall scores for mood and vigor declining steadily during the test period. When the subjects were allowed to get enough sleep, their mood scores improved dramatically.”

Okay, so we know sleep helps us not to be cranky and keeps us mentally sharp, but I also know that sleep can solve problems. I think that our minds work on our problems in our sleep. It’s like magic. Try to different experiments. They can even be done at the same time. First, go to bed and with the promise to yourself that you will sleep for a full eight hours—do a bit of math, figure out your wake up time, and stick to your promise. The second experiment—on a notebook beside your table, write down a worry or a concern—don’t stew over it, just close your eyes and sleep. First thing in the morning, write down any thoughts/dreams you may have had during the night.

This has worked for me on several different occasions, but sometimes I forget this amazingly simple problem solving tool. I wasn’t thinking of solving problems this week. I was just simply cranky. (Not enough sleep? Maybe, or maybe I was just discouraged and cranky.)

I’ll confess that I didn’t work on my manuscript at all yesterday or the day before. I’d set some lofty goals for the month and I’d meeting them fairly consistently and Tuesday night I went to bed with feelings like: writing has taken over my life, maybe I’m using my writing to avoid other things I should be doing, all this sitting and writing is making my bottom big. I woke up the next morning with the most amazing story idea. I’m not even half way through with the first draft of my current book and I’m a third of the way through editing another. I’m not at all ready to start to something new, but the idea was so mind boggling good I had to write the outline. Sometime later I remembered that writing is taking over my life, it’s helping me to avoid life’s messiness and it’s making my bottom big. Oh well, maybe some messes are best avoided and some people like big bottom girls enough to write songs about them. (No one writes songs about small bottom girls)

I think in sleep we draw closer to our real selves—the part of our souls that speaks to us, loves us best and provides gentle answers. When we don’t get enough sleep, when we’re exhausted, we close the door on intuition. The Bible dictionary defines dreams as “one of the ways that God communicates with man.” And in Joel 2:28 he tells us:

I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

Which is the best argument for a good night’s sleep of all.

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