Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

How to Unleash the Power of Snoozing

snoozingWant a proven boost for your practice? Go home and get a good night’s sleep.

Even better, begin cultivating habits for healthy, restful sleep every night.

“Researchers, working in what is a golden age of sleep science, are pulling back the curtain on sleep and revealing, in study after study, the profound benefits of sleep in every part of our lives,” says Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post and a leader in the self-styled Sleep Revolution. “[F]rom our health, job performance, and relationships to our creativity, emotional intelligence, and happiness.”

It turns out sleep has a greater impact on performance and productivity than we ever imagined. A leading researcher, Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke, says: “Sleep is probably the glue that ties all our health together. The brain actually works harder when we sleep than when we’re awake.”

Sleep is when our bodies recharge, restore and repair themselves. If we don’t get enough of it – seven to eight hours per night, experts recommend - we’re headed for a breakdown.

“Think of sleep as the tune-up you need to run smoothly,” writes Dr. David M. Rapoport, who runs a Sleep Medicine Program at NYU Medical Center.

Sleep as a Foe

For many lawyers, sleep is an obstacle to be overcome. It is an impediment to billing hours and meeting deadlines. They agree with Thomas Edison, who called sleep an absurdity. The goal is to stay busy and do stuff, which is impossible when asleep. This is the mindset known as “heroic wakefulness:” the idea that depriving oneself of sleep demonstrates drive, machismo and commitment.

Huffington says Edison (whom she calls a founder of the cult of sleep-deprivation) had it exactly backwards.

“Technology allowed us to become much more productive, but also exacerbated our collective delusion equating sleep deprivation and burnout with dedication and hard work. In addition to our health and well-being … sleep enhances creativity, our ability to handle stress and anxiety, memory consolidation, learning, decision making, emotional intelligence and cognitive functions.”

Need More Motivation?

  • Sleep makes you smarter. While you’re asleep, your brain is fast at work processing the zillions of bits of information you absorbed during the day. “If you’re trying to learn something, go to bed,” Rapoport says. Chances are you’ll remember that speech or perform those dance moves better in the morning.
  • Sleep improves your memory. It acts as a file organizer, deciding what to store and what to toss. “It is a paradox,” says one expert at Deep Mind. “We think of sleep as an inefficient use of time, and in fact it is the most efficient use of time in terms of learning and memory.”
  • Sleep brightens your mood. Sleep gives you a more positive outlook. It helps manage stress and has been shown effective in treating depression.

It even helps Formula One race car drivers.

Sleep doctor Ari Hintsa became an internationally sought-after health coach after he convinced Formula One racers they could shave seconds off their times simply by sleeping longer each night.

Still not convinced? How about this: sleep helps you lose weight. According to WebMD, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people ate an average of nearly 300 fewer calories per day when they were well rested. “We’re discovering that a part of the brain that controls sleep also plays a role in appetite and metabolism,” Rapoport says.

How much do you sleep every night? Got any good sleep stories?              


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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