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Rant & Rave


Thursday, June 14, 2001

Pushing off-button
on internal clocks

"You sleep the whole day away," my father grumbles when I sleep past 8 a.m. on weekends. To me, the weekends are my one chance to catch recover from sleep deficit accumulated from the past five school days, so I continue to sleep despite my father's disapproval. It's not that I'm lazy; I just need to catch up on my sleep.

I blame electricity for my sleep deprivation. Electrical lights provide light for the dark hours after sundown and fool our bodies into thinking that it is still daytime.

Although I am able to accomplish more with the aid of artificial sunlight, I am suppressing my body's natural clock and rhythms. I finish my daily tasks, such as homework, at the expense of sleep.

On an average night, I get four to five hours of sleep, much less than sleep experts' eight hour recommendation. According to a May 2001 Reader's Digest article, I'm not the only American accumulating a "sleep debt."

Adults across the United States are robbing themselves of 330 hours of sleep per year!

The times when I do get my eight hours of sleep is when I go camping. I'd go to sleep shortly after the campfire expires and wake up to the warmth of the sun and the songs of the chirping birds. And I feel great!

I believe this is because in natural surroundings, my body is most in tune to my internal clock.

As we get older, we find it easier and easier to push the off-button on that internal clock. As a first-grader, I was in bed by 8 p.m. As a high school sophomore, I remember struggling to stay up 'til midnight, my radio tuned to KSSK, so I could find out the No. 1 song on "Casey's Countdown."

Now as a junior in college, my average bed time is 3:30 a.m. and I rise by 8 p.m. With only four-and-a-half hours of sleep, I feel pretty tired and I long for the good old days when I was well-rested.

For me and many other students out there, getting eight hours of sleep is physically impossible -- there just aren't enough hours in the day to complete all the tasks one needs to do, and get the recommended eight hours of sleep.

It is for this reason that I believe society should start restructuring to meet our body's natural sleep requirements. I believe that schools should not assign vast amounts of homework that will prevent students from sleeping.

Work places, likewise, should follow suit. By having more well-rested individuals, society would be happier, more productive and safer.

Inattentive students and sleeping-at-the-wheel accidents are all cured by paying attention to our natural clocks.

We should sleep when our internal natural clock says, "Bed time!"

In a world swamped with the amenities of a technologically advanced society -- electric lights, computers and telephones -- it is easy to get lost and lose touch with our bodies. Take some time out.

Get in touch with Mother Nature. And listen to your natural clock.

Reid Katagihara is an Iolani graduate who will be
a senior at the University of Puget Sound in
Tacoma, Wa., this fall.

Rant & Rave allows those 12 to 22
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