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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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It's nap time

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I got in my car after leaving the store and couldn't find my sunglasses. So I went back inside and asked several of the employees working behind the counter if they had seen them, describing them in great detail. One of them replied, 'Do they by any chance look like the ones on top of your head?' I thanked her and walked out with my sunglasses on my head and my tail between my legs. Then I went home and took a nap.

I realized I was suffering from sleep deprivation having been up since 3 a.m. that morning. I'm new to this early work day after starting my new radio gig on 'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' (shameless plug). I'm not complaining at all - I love my job! I've always been a morning person, but 3 a.m. is early really early! My body is trying to adjust from sleeping a solid eight hours to six (if I'm lucky). It's a change that has had an impact on my cognitive function, energy level, appetite and social life (?).

I'm not alone in this. Many of you are working unusual hours or tending to children at all hours of the night. Lack of sleep can impact our lives in ways from making us stupid (have you seen my glasses?) to downright dangerous! Sleep deprivation can make us cranky, reduce our ability to fight off infection, slow our reaction time and impede our judgment - and that can lead to mistakes on the job and even accidents.

One way to determine if you're sleep deprived is to seclude yourself in a dark room with a comfy chair or bed and close your eyes. If you can stay awake for 15 minutes, you're not sleep deprived, but if you find yourself nodding off after only a matter of five to 10 minutes, you most likely are. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your quality of sleep and life.

Eat right Avoid the temptation to 'boost' your energy with too much caffeine, soda and sugary snacks. Reach for fruit, protein and healthy snacks instead.

Exercise there is nothing like a good workout to help you sleep better and keep your immune system healthy. It also stimulates brain activity, so you can think clearer when your brain is functioning on less sleep.

Before bed To improve your quality of sleep avoid alcohol, caffeine and stimulating activity (lay off the computer) before bed.

And finally, I strongly suggest you rediscover the joy of napping. I find that a short nap of 30 to 60 minutes on a day when I'm really dragging is all it takes to rejuvenate me and boost my energy. In fact, a NASA study on military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent.

Sleep beautiful sleep. We need it to stay healthy and to perform at our best. So if you find yourself not getting a solid night's sleep, there are things you can do to ensure you can function well and remain healthy in spite of the loss of Zs. I am so lucky to do the job I do, and I'll be back at it tomorrow morning. For now - it's nap time.

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