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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sleep Debt

So, when I was a kid doctors said that if you missed any sleep, if you didn't get your 7 or 8 hours a night, you'd never make it up.  They told me this, because I had a sleeping disorder from birth. I knew that was wrong.  I knew that if you missed sleep, you not only could make it up later, you had to make it up later to maintain your health. That's why people tend to sleep in on Saturdays, the only day of the week they're not required to do something in the morning.

Then, about ten years ago the doctors announced there was something called "sleep debt" and if you miss sleep, you'll make it up later or get sick. It was a "new discovery", but not to most people. Everyone has a normal amount of sleep they have to get to be healthy, usually between seven and eight hours. Mine is eight. I pretty much always end up averaging eight a night for the week, but often I'll sleep more or less any given day.  But yours might be six or nine and still be totally normal. But if your normal is seven and you consistently get 6, you will have to catch it up, even if someone you know might not have to because their normal is six.

Well, today some sleep debt caught up with me.

Last night I fell asleep at a fairly early hour and slept for seven hours. I woke up at about five am and grabbed the phone next to my bed and called Ryan. We talked for like half an hour, and he said, "How much sleep did you get?"

"About seven hours."

"You still sound sleepy. It's early. Why don't you try to get a little more sleep?"

"Okay."

So I went to bed and slept until I woke up... at 1:30pm.  I'd slept another eight hours!  I laughed at this and the phone rang and it was Ryan. I answered and from my 'hello' he said:

"Don't tell me you just woke up!"  Well, yes, I did.

We talked for another hour or so, then he said, "Well, I should be going to bed" (it was night for him in India) "and you should be getting up." I agreed, but when I got off the phone, it was cold. So I stayed under the blankets, telling myself I'd get up in "a minute".

Three and a half hours I woke up again because my dogs were demanding I let them go to the bathroom.

That's right, I got eighteen and a half hours of sleep today.

Hopefully I've caught up on my sleep debt from the last month, where I often cut sleep short to get to work or for holiday stuff.  Luckily I had no real plans for today.

Honestly, I feel pretty good. Thanks, God, for the sleep!

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