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Sustainable Sleep

January 5, 2008

New years mean new resolutions, and with the pace of the typical schedule, it can be difficult to fit additional activities into each day. However, I offer one resolution that may even make the others easier to keep:

Practice Sustainable Sleep. I know, it may not seem like environmentalism in the traditional sense, but maintaining a sustainable lifestyle allows you to operate more efficiently, and have a higher quality of life. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the loss of even a few hours of sleep each night can cause difficulties with anxiety, mood, and health and impair alertness and motor skills.

“Daytime alertness and memory are impaired by the loss of eight hours of sleep, especially when sleep loss is sustained over a few nights.

“University of Pennsylvania researchers found that when study subjects were only allowed to sleep 4.5 hours a night for one week, they reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted, with overall scores for mood and vigor declining steadily during the test period. “ (both via this NSF PDF)

So start sleeping. Each person requires a different amount of sleep to function at their best, and it can vary over seasons and years. The best way to find out how much is right for you is to simply start sleeping. Go to bed early enough that you can get 9-10 hours of sleep before your alarm would wake you, more if possible. If you wake up naturally before your alarm, get up and begin your day. While the first several days will see you sleeping far more than you thought was necessary, eventually your body will even out to somewhere in the 7-9 hour range.

Stick to this resolution with these sleep tips from the NSF. The quick summary is to make sure you allot plenty of time to relax and sleep, and give yourself a stress free, comfortable place to sleep. These two have been a struggle for me during my time in architecture school and living in the dorm. But I’ve been making an effort this year to reduce my late nights in studio and eliminate my caffeine intake. It’s really made a difference in decreasing my overall stress level.

What are your sustainable resolutions? (photo via)

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3 comments

  1. I blame my bad sleeping hours on my ol’ college schedule!

    It’s tough to go from waking up late to waking up at say 6:00am. But what I did was set two alarm schedules. One for 7:00am and one for 7:30am. Then I slowly started moving it up a bit until low and behold…I’m up by 6:00am! I’ve never had a more productive day!

    You wake up with such clarity and there’s so much time in your morning, that your day goes by with such productivity!


  2. Yoga every day. And by yoga I mean if I do even one long stretch, I count my resolution accomplished.


  3. Anna- stretching=amazing in my book. Awesome (but practical) resolution.

    Ricardo- My bad sleeping hours are definitely a result of my college schedule. I don’t know if I’m quite as ambitious as you, but I’d love to be up by 7:30 every morning. I might just have to try your tip.



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