Short Cut to Deal with Sleep Shortage: Inflating the Count with Placebo

As the pace of society quickens, and we want to sardine as many tasks as we can into one day, short cuts and sacrifices are inevitable. Unfortunately, sleep always seems to be the unlucky candidate that gets the short end of the stick and told: “Sorry, maybe I’ll get to you tomorrow.”

Well, if these are just the facts and realities of the times, then we may have to be creative and find our own kind of placebo effect to convince ourselves otherwise, and maybe derive some unanticipated health benefits from our strapped circumstances.

Here is an example: We usually count sleep duration by erroring on the side that puts us in the category of being sleep deprived. We may be in bed 8 hours, but not all of it is quality sleep time. So, in our sleep journals, maybe we put total of 7 hours or even less to account for all the tossing and turning, aches, thinking, and, yes, procrastination. Accurate? Yes, but depressing. Realistic? Yes, but doesn’t do anything for the ‘feel good’ side of the ledger.

I want to argue that some days we should try to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. If we are in the midst of a hectic period where the allotted time and hours don’t add up, then let’s skew the statistics in our sleep journals, a little bit. On the odd chance, in the odd morning, that you find yourself sleeping all the way to your alarm, with the alarm actually waking you up, but it still totals only 6.5 hours of sleep, then let’s inflate the numbers a bit. For myself, I imagine myself, and tell myself, that I could have slept another half an hour at least, if the alarm didn’t go home, then I’ll just reward myself with the bonus. I could have slept a quality 7 hours, so just give me the credit.

Will this placebo effect carry me through the day? I know I could be just deluding myself and this could actually have adverse effects on my health over the long term, but it sure feels better than fretting and dwelling the entire day over how I’m short of sleep. We can deal with the truth in therapy later on when things die down, but can we be allowed this short cut for the time being? Instead of always shorting ourselves of it, how about we go long for once? Really, I’m refreshed.

-Patrick Law



Filed under Short Cuts, Sleep

2 responses to “Short Cut to Deal with Sleep Shortage: Inflating the Count with Placebo

  1. Zal

    Hey Pat,

    I’ve always been a big proponent of adequate sleep for a healthy mind and body. Remember when leeg folks used to tease me that “it’s past 10:00pm Zal, shouldn’t you be in bed by now?”.

    In actuality, it’s very advantageous to stick to a sleep schedule every night (regardless of whether it’s a weekday or weekend). Every morning, no matter what day it is, I’m up at 6:30am. This gives me the energy to get throught the work day, hit the gym, ball hockey games, etc.

    Your own body will let you know if you’re getting enough sleep or not, and you can then adjust accordingly. I guess that’s kinda why I always must be within eyesight of a digital clock when I’m in bed… so I hopefully don’t need to skew my sleep journals. 🙂

  2. Hey Zal,
    Yes, I remember, the memories. And, guilty, I was one of the boys who used to tease you. Ironically, now, your type of hours and lifestyle is what I dream about all the time.

    When I’m able to get that morning routine in, that explosiveness lasts most of the day..and carries through…. One of the simple pleasures of life is getting up before the sun, in autumn, and being one of the first to see your breath in that crisp air and having your feet float on that frosting on top of the grass.

    Speaking of skewing journals, ever notice that just the act of writing out your night time dream contents in the morning automatically skews them? They can never be as authentic and raw as while you were dreaming, and you sort of write in your preferred interpretations as you jot them down?

    For example, I am sure I had some kind of close relationship during my time at the hairstylist in a land I can’t seem to name, but in my journal in came out as a story of her cutting my hair while I kept giving her English language reading comprehension exercises. I mean, orally reciting an article and then asking her to answer multiple choice questions out of thin air. It didn’t seem as romantic as what I felt in the dream, but that’s what I wrote in my dream journal. What does this mean?
    Plus, she’s already a native English speaker who has no interest in studying my chosen article of ‘Laser eye surgery vs. contacts.’

    What’s happening?


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