Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sucker punched in a nightclub brawl

Of all the things we regularly do to rejuvenate us, sleeping has got to be at the top of the list. Most of us sleep a quarter to a third of our lives away. Middle-age men like me sleep a little more with the occasional power nap we take when nobody is looking.

The National Sleep Foundation in the United States maintains that 8 to 9 hours of sleep for adults is optimal and that sufficient sleep benefits alertness, memory and problem solving, and overall health, as well as reducing the risk of accidents. This sleep dosage is supported by a well-known university's research findings which demonstrated that cognitive performance declines with fewer than 8 hours of sleep. However, another university's research study of more than one million adults found that people who live the longest self-report sleeping only 6 to 7 hours each night.

What about me? I seldom get 8 to 9 hours of sleep in a a typical day, averaging instead about 6 hours which seems sufficient most of the time. And when I have a severe sleep deficit, the good old power nap does the job of eliminating my deficit.

Do middle-age men take more naps that the younger average Joe 6-pack? Who knows for sure but that is the stereotype in my mind's eye even though I often don't take a nap. Every now and then, however, I'll treat myself to a 2-hour plus power nap, generally on a Sunday afternoon. Man does that feel great!

What I do know is that many middle-age man have problems with interrupted sleep at night. Middle-age women have problems too; I hear about it all the time. With middle-age men, it's the middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom, the wee hours of the morning prostate call. I'm not sure why middle-age women have interrupted sleep. Maybe it is their husbands snoring but, truth be told, it could be their own snoring that's waking them.

Most of the time, I do not have problems with interrupted sleep - except for occasional bouts during my busy work season when I'm working long days and unfinished work and deadlines are constantly on my mind - thanks to regular and rigorous exercise. At the end of most days I feel calm and relaxed with a sleepiness that reminds me of how I felt as a young child when the sandman arrived.

This late-night sleepiness is a very eurphoric and sedative feeling accompanied with rapid-fire flurries of sighs and yawns that eventually lead to a sudden lights out knockout, like drunk sailor who just got sucker punched in a nightclub brawl.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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