Professor/Past Chairman, Dept. of Psychology at Cornell University
Recipient of American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Educator Award
Keynote presenter for major corporations including Marriott, IBM, Apple, Kodak, etc.
Appeared on NBC Nightly News, ABC’s 20/20, Today Show, Good Morning America and Oprah
B.A. Williams College, M.A., and Ph.D., Cornell University
Dr. James Maas: Sleep for Success
By The 700 Club
Appearance Date: December 8, 2010
Most Americans don’t value sleep, because many of us are ignorant of what can happen when we don’t get enough. Dr. James Maas says over 71percent of the population is moderately to severely sleep deprived. “Whatever you estimate your total sleep to be, it’s probably overestimated by an hour,” says Dr. Maas. “We have a nation of zombies.”
There is a significant link between a lack of sleep and stress, depression, ability to think and perform, hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, Type II diabetes, periodontal disease, skin problems, obesity and cancer. “We need to value sleep not as a luxury but as a necessity,” says Dr. Maas.
We might feel alert enough to get through the day, but we are performing well below our potential. Most adults need between 7.5 and 9 hours per night. Typically we should feel wide awake, energetic and alert all day without a significant midday drop in alertness.
Dr. Maas says we sleep for two reasons. First, our bodies run on cycles called circadian rhythms, of which the sleep cycle is one. Many of these cycles, such as heartbeat, blood pressure, respiration, metabolism, and temperature, drop or slow during the sleep cycle. Light is the most powerful cue affecting sleep and darkness triggers the release of melatonin, the hormone that brings on sleep. Noise and temperature also play key roles in the regulation of our sleep cycle.
Second, we sleep because the longer we are awake the greater our need for mentally and physically restorative sleep. It takes one hour of sleep to pay for every two hours of wakefulness. So we start to tire after being up for 16 hours. Sleep debt is cumulative, which means the longer you deprive yourself of rest, the more of it you will need to feel rested.
Two of his students at Cornell had a daughter who was figure skating. She was good, but perhaps not good enough to win a medal in the Olympics. She was training twice a day (early in the morning and later in the afternoon). Her parents consulted Dr. Maas. He suggested eliminating the early morning practice, changed her sleeping habits giving her one extra hour of sleep a night (she went from 7 to 8 hours). Soon her grades went up and physically she became stronger. “Sleeping builds muscle and enhances athletic performance,” says Dr. Maas. This young girl was Sarah Hughes who went on to the Olympics and won the Gold Medal in figure skating.
Dr. Maas says there are four simple keys that we can incorporate into our lives for one week.
Essential Key #1: Determine your "Personal Sleep Quotient" and meet it nightly. Pick a bedtime when you are likely to fall asleep quickly that’s at least 8 hours before you need to get up. Keep to this bedtime for a week and note when you wake up in the morning.
Essential Key #2: Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up naturally at the same time every morning, including weekends.
Essential Key #3: Get your required amount of sleep in one continuous block.
Essential Key #4: Make up for lost sleep as soon as possible.
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