Posted on Feb 4th, 2006

Remember the wreck of the Exxon Valdez in 1989 that resulted in a such a massive oil spill?

Most people seem to think it was caused by the captain being drunk. Not so at all.

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled the cause was sleep deprivation, as the third mate on duty and steering the ship had slept only six hours of the previous 72 hours.

Our bodies were designed for sleep

But we behave as if this is not true. It has become almost an accepted truth in our culture that in order to be successful, you have to learn to function well on less and less sleep.

The problem is we don’t function well.

Occasionally sacrificing your sleep to get a job done on deadline is just a natural part of the world of work. Regularly sacrificing your sleep in order to work more is unhealthy and a lousy use of time that eventually catches up with you and becomes counterproductive.

According to sleep researcher William C. Dement, author of "The Promise of Sleep" sleep debt is like a money loan that must be paid back to avoid serious consequences.

Consistent sleep debt lead to dangerous drowsiness, fatigue and general crankiness.

If our bodies are designed to sleep, then it follows that one way to reduce the stress is to get enough sleep.

I bet you have a great and little used stress busting device in our home right now - the VCR. Tape Tv shows you want to watch and go to bed.

If you can’t sleep, at least rest

Rest is simply setting still and doing not much at all. If you can get good at resting, getting good at sleeping is often not far behind.

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