Are you sleepwalking through life?
Take Dr. Mary’s sleep quiz to find out just how well you’re sleeping at night, and what you can do to start getting the ZZZs you need.
- In the morning, I wake up feeling restored and ready to go.
A. Never! Are you kidding, I go to the bathroom, drink a glass of water, and jump right back into my snuggly warm bed until noon or later.
B. I wish I could go back to my bed. If I have to sit down or go on a long drive in the afternoon, I’m definitely going to nod off.
C. Most of the time. I can usually do my work during the day and have some time for my friends and my partner before I get tired.
D. Always! I’m recharged and ready to cure cancer or create world peace, whichever comes first.
- Does this statement fit you? “I could take a nap before noon.”
A. Yes! That’s the way the world should run. I’d nap every morning if I could.
B. Most days, I start to feel ready for a little snooze around eleven.
C. Rarely, although after a big party or a late night with friends, a nap in the morning does the trick.
D. Never. It doesn’t even cross my mind to consider sleeping in the morning when there’s so much to do.
- Which description best fits your sleep hygiene?
A. I go to bed at all kinds of odd hours, leave my TV running at night, and often sleep on the couch instead of my bed.
B. I generally go to bed around the same time, but I like to fall asleep on the couch a lot. I leave a light on too, or crack the blinds to let the moonlight through.
C. I usually sleep in my bed, with the room at a comfortable temperature, with limited noise and lights out, except my bedside alarm clock.
D. I sleep in the darkest room possible, with a washcloth over my alarm clock, to best protect my precious circadian rhythms. Oh, and I have earplugs handy just in case.
- Do you do anything besides sleep in your bed?
A. My bedroom could be renamed the living room. I watch TV, read, hang out with friends, talk on the phone, fight with my partner—I even eat there.
B. I use my bedroom as my office and work out space, but I only watch a little TV at night just before bed.
C. I check my social networks or read just before bed, but then it’s definitely lights out.
D. My bedroom is for getting some shut-eye. That’s it. No TV, no desk, no exercise equipment. Just me, my teddy bear, and my sweet dreams.
- Do you experience any problems when you sleep?
A. When I wake up, my bedding is all twisted up. I snore, grind my teeth, have nightmares frequently, and flop like a fish out of water. Other than that, I sleep great!
B. I have trouble falling asleep and I wake up often to check the clock. I have an appliance for my teeth grinding.
C. I rarely have trouble falling asleep, but I have an occasional nightmare after a scary movie.
D. I sleep like a baby most nights. I barely move, and I dream about fluffy kittens playing with balls of yarn all night long. My parents check to see if I’m alive, I’m so quiet.
- Is your sleep disrupted by any of the following?
(Circle all of the problems that you experience.)
Sinus congestion or dry mouth
Leg pain or cramping
Heartburn or upset stomach
Sweating or chills
Scoring: Score four points for each A, 3 points for each B, 2 points for each C, 1 point for each D. In question #6, score 2 points for each positive answer.
If you scored 24-34: Bad news, my groggy friend — you have many unhealthy habits that are likely having a significant impact on your ability to experience a good night’s sleep. You don’t seem to be listening to your body’s cues and you may be fighting the natural circadian rhythms of your body.
If you scored 16-23: You have some bad habits surrounding sleep. Take some time to create a comfortable place to sleep. Make your bedroom as dark as possible, and use your bedroom only for sleep and not for other activities like TV or exercise.
If you scored 10-15: Your bedtime habits are good! Continue to practice good bedtime routines and try to go to bed at the same time most nights.
If you scored less than 10: You are a sleeping superhero. You joined the Revolution before you even knew about it! You could teach a sleeping class!
It seems like a good night’s sleep is getting harder to come by. Approximately 80% of working adults suffer from sleep deprivation to some extent, according to the National Sleep Foundation. We are sleeping one to two hours less per night than we did 50 years ago, and 38 minutes less on the weekdays than we did just 10 years ago.
When your sleep is disturbed, your cleaning system breaks down. While awake, your cleaning system rinses your brain’s cells at only 5% the rate that occurs during your sleep state.
According to study results published in the Journal of Neuroscience associated with the Veasey lab, your brain can recover readily from short-term sleep loss, but chronic sleep disruption stresses key neurons and can lead to a build-up of proteins associated with aging and degeneration.
Getting a good night’s sleep is just one more reason to avoid alcohol. The sedating effect of wine or beer helps you get to sleep, but then alcohol’s sugar levels can wake you up in the wee morning hours, leading to daytime fatigue and sleepiness.
Studies show that a moderate dose of alcohol consumed as much as six hours before bedtime can increase wakefulness during the second half of sleep—long after the alcohol has left the body. That suggests a “relatively long-lasting change in the body’s mechanisms of sleep regulation,” according to the article, “Alcohol and Sleep,” published by The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Another study showed that drinkers performed poorly in a driving simulation—a day after the alcohol was consumed – the article reported.
It’s unlikely that an occasional bad night’s sleep can lead to Alzheimer’s, but persistent sleep loss could shift the onset of diseases like this by a decade or so.
Bottom line: your sleep has profound implications on your mood, how well you perform in the classroom and at work, how well you drive—and to your health over the long haul.
Landolt, HP, et al. “Late-afternoon ethanol intake affects nocturnal sleep and the sleep EEG in middle-aged men.” Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology: (1996).
Vitiello, MV. “Sleep, alcohol and alcohol abuse.” Addiction Biology: (1997).
Roehrs, T, et al. “Sleepiness and ethanol effects on simulated driving.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research: (1994).
Krull, KR, et al. “Simple reaction time event-related potentials: Effects of alcohol and sleep deprivation. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research: (1993).
Posted on by Mary Clifton, MD