“Sleeping Half my Life”

In casually searching for information about sleep, coffee, and hard training, I came across a 2007 NY Times Article that mentions the following facts about two endurance athletes.

“Deena Kastor, who won the London Marathon last year and set an American record, said she sleeps 10 hours at night and takes a two-hour nap every afternoon. Steven Spence, a marathoner who won a bronze medal at the 1991 world championships in Tokyo, had the same sleep habits when he was training.”

That’s 12 hours of sleep a day! Of course, these are elite-level athletes, but still I began to wonder how much sleep I need. Given how much work I have and how much I train, sleep has often suffered. I’ll find myself often staying up till 3, 4 am and waking up at 8 am. I’ll take naps throughout the day when I feel especially exhausted, which my work allows me to do (whether I work from home or go into the lab and sneak off to a couch for a quick power nap).

The question I started asking myself is should I make sleep a bigger priority. In other words, should I plan my day around sleep? Should I force myself to finish the absolute most important tasks before a hard deadline of (say) midnight?

There are no good answers here, because a lack of sleep doesn’t have a well-defined immediate effect on performance for me. Does it for anyone? So it’s a long learning process, much like every other aspect of life.

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