Time Management Expert, Event Speaker: Mark Lamendola

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Time Tips: Sleep Deprivation

I first wrote this tip during a 4th of July holiday week. For our international subscribers, I'll tell you quickly this is a celebration of the birth of our nation, the United States.

While I am grateful for this nation and all it offers, I find the holiday celebration to be a bit over the top. So, I will comment on it here in my own party-pooping style (just allow for that, and you will pick up some good tips).

We celebrate the 4th by keeping working people up way, way, way past their bedtimes, so they drag their butts from sleep deprivation for the next three weeks. In POW camps, the guards do this by waking the prisoners with a variety of methods including the setting off of explosives. In the USA, the non-working folks and kids who are out of school do this by waking the working folks with a variety of methods including the setting off of explosives. This goes on for several days before and after the holiday, with the peak period being on the 4th.

Accident rates are higher, productivity is lower, and so on. I personally don't see the point in this annual abuse of the working class, but hey, what do I know? And I still don't understand the attraction of blown-off fingers, blasted ear drums, and permanent blindness. Call me a killjoy, but I guess I'm just not into those things.

How can you deal with this sleep deprivation, other than leaving the country for a few days? Here are some suggestions:

  • Wear earplugs. If you own a home, you mow a lawn. And, thus, you have hearing protection. What? You don't have it? Read that owner's manual! Here's a tip for you: any time you must raise your voice above normal conversational volume to be heard, hearing protection is required. I don't have to tell you that you have to raise your voice to be heard over your lawnmower. Unless you want hearing damage--which you probably already have to some extent if you are mowing without plugs--wear those earplugs! You can get them at any gun shop, and probably at any hardware store.
  • Run one of those room air purifiers to generate white noise. Combined with earplugs, this can reduce the "wake up factor" dramatically. You could also try playing music, if you have a CD player or DVD player you can put on an endless loop.
  • Set up an air mattress in your basement or other rather secluded part of your home.
  • Change your hours. Midnight seems to be the cutoff for the fireworks crowd. While people whose jobs require them to start at 0600 or 0700 won't cure the problem with a one-hour time shift, they will experience less of an effect. People who start work at 0900 can eliminate all effects by starting half an hour later. Talk with your boss about a temporary hours shift, so that you can do a full 8 hrs work rather than cranking out 3 hrs worth while you drag your butt waiting for some badly needed sleep. The financial case is there. If your boss is more fixated on clock time than output, so be it. Maybe you can take a long lunch and catch a nap at home, mid-day.

More about sleep deprivation:

One of the techniques used to torture prisoners is sleep deprivation. Even a small loss of sleep can cause problems. For example, the Sleep Institute has found that a person who is 20% sleep-deprived has the mental acuity of someone who's drunk.

Interestingly, in most parts of the USA we have a bizarre and deadly ritual called Daylight Wasting Time. In the spring, we move our clocks forward so that we lose an hour of daylight each morning. Folks get up earlier and drive to work in the dark. In the fall, we repeat this insanity so folks drive home in the dark. Note: Arizona and Indiana have decided to be insanity-free zones, at least in regard to this clock-changing things, so they don't do this to their citizens.

But being in the dark isn't the real problem with Daylight Wasting Time. The real problem is the fact we change clocks at all. Without adequate "normalizing" beforehand, this clock change causes people to lose at least an hour of sleep (typically more, for reasons we won't go into) no matter which way you change the clocks. The result is jet lag on an enormous scale.

This is why we have a rash of traffic "accidents" and industrial injuries for the three weeks following the clock change (the human body's clock needs about three weeks to reset). This is a very expensive exercise, in terms of dollars and sheer human suffering.

Why don't we just insist our various governments stop killing citizens and causing massive economic damage this way? That won't do any good. If we have learned anything from history, it's the simple fact that we're deluding ourselves if we expect anything remotely resembling common sense to emanate from government. It's like expecting cancer to make you younger.

The good news is we have a way to cope with this semi-annual sleep deprivation torture ritual and greatly reduce the potential for catastrophic loss.

Last month was the time to start going to bed earlier (in the northern hemisphere, anyhow). Just fifteen minutes, in week one. Then, fifteen minutes the next week. And so on for four weeks. Under that scenario, you'll slowly adjust your body clock, instead of jarring it from one position to another.

Now, so close to DWT-day, there is still hope. The key is still "go to bed earlier." Only now, you have to go in larger increments and change them daily. You're still going to have to adjust over three weeks, and thereby suffer some negative effects. But those will be blunted. This will allow you to focus on your main problem if you commute by automobile--namely, all of the idiots driving while effectively intoxicated.

When you awake after that first night of going to bed a bit early, get up immediately. Don't dally in bed. You may feel a bit sleepy, but that's OK. Get up and get going, and the sleepiness will pass. Go to bed a bit earlier that night.

If you are using an alarm clock, you are making a huge error. You aren't getting enough sleep. This means you are less efficient all day long. Save time by going to bed earlier and waking up naturally.

If you have problems falling asleep or staying that way, then you need our Sleeplessness Causes and Cures course.




Do you want to radically improve how well people in your organization make use of the limited number of hours in each work day?

Contact me to arrange a time when we can talk about a presentation: mark@mindconnection.com. Why arrange a time? So I can give you full attention during the call. There's a really powerful time management tip. Ask me why it works.