Steve's Reflections


In 1999 and 2000, Steve Kirsch outlined his thoughts on a variety of philanthropic and political reform topics. Please select from the list to find those of interest to you.

Reflection #9

Benefits of sleep

Research by Cornell psychology professor James B. Maas shows that if you get less than eight hours of sleep a night, you are operating impaired; your alertness, productivity and creativity, and general health are all affected.

Hoping to reach those who missed his award-winning documentaries on public television, the sleep seminars and keynote addresses for corporations or his introductory psychology class at Cornell, Maas has compiled his findings and advice in a new book, Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program that Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance (Villard, 1998). The book details the enormous costs to individuals and society of sleep deprivation, then explains the "architecture and functions" of sleep and offers a practical guide to balancing a personal sleep budget while coping with those who can't. One-third of all Americans get six hours of sleep a night or less when they should be getting nine or 10.

"If we can get people sleeping eight hours, that would be wonderful, although still not optimal," Maas said and explained the significance of that number. "Between the seventh and eighth hour is when we get almost an hour of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the time when the mind repairs itself, grows new connections and puts it all together. REM sleep occurs about every 90 minutes, and the periods of REM sleep get longer as the night progresses. If you’re a six-hour sleeper, you’re missing that last, important opportunity to repair and to prepare for the coming day."

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