I have a serious case of Sunday Night Insomnia.
Sunday Night Insomnia is a very specific brand of insomnia. It's not tossing and turning and vaguely worrying about something I know is ridiculous. It's getting into bed after a relaxing weekend only to be hit with a wave of anxiety about the week in front of me.
I start a mental list of every single thing I have to do the next morning, think about how many days I have until Friday and worry about how terribly exhausted I'll be the next day as the minutes tick on.
This Sunday night was particularly difficult because of daylight savings. We'd just lost an hour, so I wasn't even tired.
I finally gave up and wandered out into the living room with a half-empty pint of ice cream and stared at the clock. It was already 1 am! Even if I fell asleep in the next 30 minutes, I would only get six hours of sleep.
Suddenly, a headline from the previous week floated into my anxiety-riddled brain: According to some new study, getting six hours of sleep was just as bad as getting no sleep at all.
After going into full-on panic mode, I did somehow manage to fall asleep. The next day, I wasn't my usual perky eight-hours-of-sleep self, but I was functioning at a pretty decent level. As someone who has struggled with insomnia her entire life, I have had nights when I haven't gotten any sleep at all.
And when that happens, I'm basically a vegetable with a mild case of anxiety. How could this study have gotten it so wrong?
I decided to look into details of the study. Published in the journal Sleep, researchers studied 48 adults for two weeks. Their sleep was either restricted to eight, six or four hours a night, and some participants had to go three days without sleep.
The study found by the second week, people who were getting six hours of sleep had the same level of cognitive functioning and reaction times as those who had gone two days without sleep.
First of all, all of the headlines I'd seen on this study were pretty misleading. One six-hour night wasn't the same as one sleepless night.
While I'm all for getting eight hours of sleep per night and definitely feel my best when I do so, I have a hard time believing someone who only gets six hours of sleep a night for over a week functions as poorly as someone who gets zero sleep over a 48-hour period.
According to an article published in Everyday Health, after two days without sleep, the body literally begins shutting down and going into "microsleeps."
Terry Cralle, RN, told the publication,
The person experiencing a microsleep falls asleep regardless of the activity they are engaged in.
In other words, those are the people falling asleep at the wheel. Is it really possible someone who gets six hours of sleep for 10 days is this exhausted?
Maybe. But it was a small study, and if research done on napping is any indication, some sleep is always better than no sleep. Even getting just twenty minutes of shuteye can improve alertness, performance and mood.
In any case, sleep is good. Sleep is important. Try to get enough of it.