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One Small Change

The World is Micro-Sleeping


I’m back in the groove. After about a week of struggling to find time to nap and rarely being successful at it, I’ve managed to string together a few days of perfect power napping.

I go down, and 30 minutes later I pop back up. When done right, it’s like a cold splash of water on the face or, as a butler once told me, like changing into a pair of fresh socks midway through the day.

Hey, want to know the most fascinating thing I’ve learned so far about napping? According to my advisor, Dr. Breus, and his authoritative and highly readable book Beauty Sleep, the more fatigued you are, the greater your chances of experiencing “micro-sleeps.” These are “seconds-long dips into sleep” that can happen dozens of time during the day without our realizing it. This isn’t like the sleep disorder called narcolepsy, but rather something far more insidious and widespread.

If you’ve ever experienced zoning out at work or not being able to recall a portion of your commute, it’s possible you were micro-sleeping. In fact, Dr. Breus cites National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsiness causes 100,000 vehicle crashes and 1,500 deaths annually. Most likely, micro-sleeps were involved.

To understand how this occurs, Dr. Breus characterizes fatigue as “sleep pressure” that gradually intensifies throughout the day. It’s a great description because it actually feels like that; you have this increasing urge or pressure to nap. But if we’re not in a situation where we can give in to that urge, the body compensates by stealing snatches of rest or micro-sleeps whenever it can.

Actually, this explains a lot—notably why my college-stressed daughter never seems to hear what I say, why my shift-working wife doesn’t remember things I ask her to do, or why I’m struggling to understand what the hell is going on in Lost. Everyone, including me, isn’t just inattentive; we’re all micro-sleeping.

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About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

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Tags: Rest, Focus, Sleep