Big Lunches Make You Sleepy (And Other Myths)
Have you ever eaten a heavy meal or drank a small amount of alcohol and then suddenly felt sleepy? Those activities don’t trigger tiredness; they simply unmask it by relaxing your body and putting yourself into a state of limited stimulation.
Before now, you may have thought that pastrami on rye was laced with sleep-inducing agents. It’s not. Sandwiches don’t make you sleepy. That boring college professor didn’t make you nod off. His voice had no special zonk-generating tonality. You were tired. The sandwich and the speaker uncover your desire to go back to bed. Most of us need to go back to bed.
According to Dr. James Maas, most people slept 10 hours a night before the invention of the electric light. “People in cultures that are free of the demands of a modern industrialized society typically sleep this much,” said Maas in his book Power Sleep. In cultures unsaddled from the modern world, people typically sleep 10 hours each night. Do you think those sleep requirements don’t apply to you? Think again. In a modern study, when a group of volunteers was given the opportunity to sleep as long as they wanted, they averaged an extra hour each night.
It’s no fun to hear you’re not sleeping enough. For some, it feels like one more thing to add to your list. More stuff to get done.
Don’t get discouraged. There is hope. Most importantly, there’s a better version of you waiting on the other side.
Have you ever given yourself a chance to sleep as long as you want? Maybe you were at a hotel or camping. If you sleep longer than expected, you’re probably sleep deprived. The average person needs 8 hours of sleep each night, but genetics determine the actual amount needed to be fully rested. Women, it’s been shown, need more sleep than men. Teenagers needs as much as toddlers. While eight hours is a good target, you should give yourself a dark, quiet room, free from an alarm clock, and see how long you sleep. If you’re paying off debt, you might sleep longer than your average need, but it’s a great benchmark for understanding your requirements. Everyone is different.
You are likely carrying around years of sleep debt. Debt needs to be repaid. Like losing weight, you can’t do it all at once. Hopping on a treadmill for 12 hours won’t eliminate the extra weight. Sleeping for 12 hours won’t repay the debt. It takes time and an awareness of your natural needs.
I need you to stop for a moment and absorb what I am about to say. This is your life. It is passing by. You get one chance. You are not experiencing it in high-definition. You are missing moments. You are frustrated and fatigued. You deserve better. Living fully awake allows you to experience all those moments that add up to become your life. Give yourself time to get rested and see who you become. Rediscover the real, fully rested you. Don’t wait until it’s too late.