Yawn, more about sleep


By Neil Offen

I know this may be tiring, but I want to talk to you again about sleeping. That’s because, and we all know it, sleeping is very important and everyone should get enough sleep even if it’s not as enjoyable as playing pickleball all the time.

But the fact is, we don’t get enough sleep. This is particularly true of people who are old enough to remember seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

That is, as we get older, we frequently sleep less and frequently sleep badly—and that affects . . . well, pretty much everything.

Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a raft of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, dementia, and staying awake at night worrying about chronic sleep deprivation. Research has shown that lab animals, forced to stay awake all night and watch reruns of “Emily in Paris” on Netflix, have yawned a lot and developed an inability to pronounce the word “ratatouille correctly.”

Lack of adequate sleep can also contribute to an increased risk of heart disease and completely nodding off during endless presentations on exchange-traded funds by your financial advisor.

According to more wide-awake researchers, sleep deprivation hinders the body’s immune responses and thwarts the brain’s ability to organize memories, so you can’t remember where you put some of those memories. Could they be in the garage? Maybe under the bed upstairs? Who can remember when you’re so fatigued and drowsy, you just want to close your eyes even though you know you probably shouldn’t do that while driving on the interstate.

Sleep deprivation also ages the skin and puts wrinkles on our wrinkles. It can lead to poor judgment, like accepting spam calls about an expired car warranty from somebody in Billings, MT, or purchasing a high-fee, low-return annuity from that financial advisor, even during a bear market. It may make you think that a bear market is where you buy bears.

Lack of sufficient sleep can also cause increased irritability, although why the hell should you care, nutcase?

Sleep deprivation can even cause weight gain. When you’re sleep deprived, your body increases the hormone that tells you you’re hungry while decreasing the hormone that controls your appetite. Also, since you’re sleeping less, you have more time to snack on Little Debbie’s.

Most of all, not getting enough sleep makes us really tired.

So, let’s try harder to sleep better. Here are a few first steps:

  • Always make sure you have a pillow with you, even if you’re in the shower.
  • At the first sign of a yawn, lie flat on the ground and close your eyes, unless you’re riding an e-bike.
  • Start going to bed earlier. Right after getting up in the morning would work.

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has been a humor columnist for four decades and in two countries. He is the author of the forthcoming book, “Building a Better Boomer.” His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.            

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