Sleep For Success:
Everything You Must Know About Sleep but Are Too Tired to Ask
By Dr. James Maas and Rebecca Robbins
Published by AuthorHouse, 2011
Are you exhausted? Often have difficulty staying awake? Then this book may be a great first step to a good night’s rest. Dr. Maas is a distinguished Professor of Psychology at Cornell University whose main research emphasis has been on sleep. As an undergraduate at Cornell, I was one of the many (1300 students in one lecture hall) who learned little known facts about the importance of sleep through Dr. Maas’ incredible lectures. The photo above is of Bailey Hall at Cornell, which is the large building which houses all the students who take Psych 101, Dr. Maas’ famous class.
The problem is actually putting the guidelines into practice. Studying hard, working hard and trying to keep up with all the activities in life leave little time to rest. Dr. Maas makes a very articulate argument for making sleeping a priority for maximizing health and the quality of one’s life.
Readers take a self- assessment of their current sleep habits and sleepiness scale near the beginning of the book. This helps in gauging one’s need for improvement. There is also a quiz on Sleep Myths which will help clarify actual facts about sleep.
The book is easy to read, with clear guidelines on how to sleep better. The authors cite four essential keys to sleeping well:
- Determine your Personal Sleep Quotient (how many hours do you need to sleep to live well) and meet it nightly (no excuses!). For adults, the authors recommend between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up naturally at the same time every morning, including weekends.
- Get your required amount of sleep in one continuous block.
- Make up for lost sleep as soon as possible.
None of the above is easy to do in this hectic world. But if we all did the above, our health would be much better. The authors cite the link between common health problems and lack of sleep, which is all backed by years of research. Lack of sleep is associated with weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and shortened lifespan.
There is an excellent chapter on the practical things to do to get a good night’s rest:
- Avoid caffeine after 2PM.
- Avoid alcohol 3 hours before bedtime.
- Quit smoking.
- Eat well and keep your weight down.
- Exercise between 5 and 7 PM.
- Don’t nap unless you must.
- Stay active mentally and physically during the day.
- Read for pleasure 30 minutes before sleep to help you wind down (not homework, not work!)
In addition, one’s bedroom environment is very important:
- Set the thermostat for 65 °F, which is the ideal sleeping temperature.
- Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible.
- Keep the noise less than 60 decibels.
- Choose muted colors such as neutrals for walls and bedding.
- Replace your mattress if it’s nearly ten years old.
- Wear appropriate bedclothes: soft, loose-fitting, breathable garments
- Choose a good pillow and comfortable sheets.
- Now for the difficult one: No electronics at all in the bedroom. This means no computers, TVs, iPads, iPods or smartphones.
- Don’t let young children crawl into your bed nightly.
There are special chapters on sleep for children, teenagers, the elderly, women, shift workers, travelers and athletes. This book clarifies and gives the reader data and research behind each of their recommendations. The above lists are a great start to improving your sense of wellbeing and functioning through better sleep. Reading the book will motivate you to change habits to get a good night’s rest. If you have any sleep issues or fatigue, this book is a wonderful, clear read to help improve your life!