Pressed by end-of-the-semester papers and finals, my son Jay, who is a junior in college, announced: “I have too many things to do.”
“Work hard. Do one thing at a time,” I told him. “And be sure to get enough sleep.”
I remembered my own advice Easter weekend. After a funeral on Friday, a wedding on Saturday and an early church service on Sunday, I took a nap before my husband and I prepared Easter dinner.
Too often when we’re busy, we plunge ahead trying to mark off as many things on our to-do lists as possible. We stay up late and get up early. We need to remember that we’re more productive when we get enough sleep.
In an article in the April 24, 2011, issue of the Dallas Morning News, writer Maggie Jones reports on sleep-restriction studies that show the difference in “sustained attention” for people who get eight hours of sleep and people who get four to six hours of sleep. It’s sustained attention that you need to focus during a long meeting or drive a car.
The study, by sleep researchers David Dinges and Hans Van Dongen, showed that people who get eight hours of sleep have hardly any attention lapses. However, people who get four hours or even six hours of sleep have significant reductions in attention and cognitive function.
Sometimes you need to take a break and decide what really has to be done now. You need to go to bed a little earlier. You might even need a nap.