Scientists now tell us that fatigue can create as much impairment as alcohol. Fatigue seems to be a side effect of busy lifestyles. In earlier times, people rose with the sun and slept when it got dark.
Sure, they had candles and lanterns, but there was just not that much to do after dark.
Biologically, we are not that different from our ancestors, but our environment has changed drastically. With television and computers, we can find entertainment 24 hours of the day. All of this stimulation distracts us from our biological instincts.
Students have extracurricular activities and homework to keep them stimulated right up until bedtime. Many adults, and children I suppose, have television sets in the bedroom turned on until it’s time to turn out the lights. The mind is activated right up until sleep time.
This is quite different from the days when the time after supper was spent quietly reading or doing a craft. The family was together, slowing down, perhaps reflecting on the day. This time allowed the mind to slow down and the body to relax, all in preparation for a restful sleep.
What happens in the hours before bedtime does affect the quality of sleep. A busy, stressed mind will not allow for the deep restoring sleep our bodies require. Fatigue can result from insufficient sleep or from poor quality sleep. Fatigue then affects the quality of our waking lives in ways that may create further stress, and so the cycle continues.
We would not go to school or work in an inebriated state, yet fatigue makes us just as dysfunctional.
Wisdom, then, would dictate that we place greater importance on the amount and quality of sleep we are getting. A good night’s sleep makes almost everything go better.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychotherapist.