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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Last week, I attended a public lecture by the very man who invented the term "power nap," Cornell University professor and researcher Dr. James Maas. His research and presentation have convinced me to take sleep hygeine a lot more seriously. I figured if his advice was credited by Sarah Hughes to help her win the gold medal in the 2002 Olympics (apparently, she's come down every fall since then to visit his Psych 101 class, gold medal in hand), it was good enough for me.

Maas's solution--eight hours of sleep at the same time every night. "Can't do it," you say? Well, like anything else, it's going to take some shoe-horning, to say the least. But, if a then-budding professional figure skater can make it work, I can't imagine what excuse most of the rest of us has.

Check out his stuff, all backed by current scientific research.

I can only say that after 4 days of implementing this, I've noticed a significant change. It's not a "magic bullet" for a quick energy boost, but I just don't feel like an utter zombie anymore.

The most facinating bit of research, the specific bit that helped Hughes in 2002, was a brand new finding around that time. (This might be of specific interest to Guru Mushtaq, if he hasn't heard this already, though I wouldn't be surprised if he had). Between the sixth and eighth hour of sleep (sleep that 71% of us cheat ourselves out of, according to the University of Chicago), the brain uses calcium to help cement the neural pathways to preserve practiced motor skills.

Getting adequate rest before and after learning only helps you retain it. And, not only that, the 71% of folks who think they're "getting by" have brains that are functioning just a little better than those of untreated narcoleptics and sleep-apnea sufferers.

That opened my eyes--or rather, closed them for 8 hours, every night for the past four nights. I've concluded that I don't have the time NOT to sleep like I need to be.


B said...

you know I have untreated sleep apnea (ask anyone whose ever been in 100ft of me sleeping) and I don't get enough hours in bed.


Mushtaq Ali said...

Kewl stuff, and I had not heard of this study, Thanks!