Lack of Sleep

Tonight, more people than usual will stay up later than usual to say goodbye to 2015 and to welcome 2016 with horn blasts, kisses, laughter, high fives, and fireworks. 

I will probably stay up with my kids doing these things as well but because I love my sleep so very much, I'll probably send them off to bed at exactly 12:01am! (My son recently reminded me how I did that last year!)

I have, on at least a few occasions in this blog, wrote about the importance of sleep and yesterday as I was trying to decide what to write about today, I ran across this article which quotes a study done in Israel. This study serves to yet again point out the importance and necessity of sleep in order to function well. When we are sleep deprived, as the study suggests, we misinterpret stimuli and assign it higher significance--even the neutral stuff.

A "real life" example might be the following scenario. After a long night of socializing with her family and friends, Dr. Barlevy is quite sleep deprived. She walks into the kitchen to get a treat for the dogs before going to bed and notices a sink full of dishes. She feels overwhelmed and saddened and begins to feel hopeless and distraught. Turning from the kitchen, she shuts off the light and goes to bed. In the morning, having awakened much later than normal due to her late night, she again sees the sink full of dishes awaiting her attention. Now, having enjoyed a good rest though, Dr. Barlevy feels its only a minor inconvenience and in fact realizes that these dishes are giving her a good opportunity for mindfulness to enjoy the warm water flowing over the dishes to warm her hands and the beauty of the dish soap's bubbles as she washes the dishes.

Okay, so its a made up example, but I wanted to emphasize the findings of the study which suggest that even ONE NIGHT of sleep deprivation can lead to this overestimation of importance that is assigned to all stimuli, not just emotionally laden ones but neutral ones as well (like a sink full of dishes).

So as you're enjoying the late-night revelry of the holiday and welcoming in the new year with your friends and family or even by yourself, remember that if you're in a sleep deprived place, you may be attributing significance to things that are not that significant. Keep this in mind when you find yourself wanting to react to something. Perhaps sleep on it. Think about it and see if it has the same meaning in the morning--after you've had a good night's rest. Allow yourself to sleep in tomorrow (I'm giving you permission!) and get back on schedule on the evening of the 1st to assist your brain in being able to correctly identify important and non-important information and help you to be more emotionally regulated. Happy New Year!