My son’s High School Bowling Team recently took part in the National High School Bowling Tournament held in Louisville, Kentucky. With 48 teams going through eliminations rounds, these events can last very long, and they usually do.

The boys were supposed to take the lanes at 1:30 PM, but the girl's games ran long and the boys didn’t take to the lanes until 3:00 PM. 48 teams were eliminated to 24, then 12, then 8, and then the final 4 teams competed for 1st place. My son’s team made the final four cuts which did not end until after midnight.

Here’s the part that stinks. Individual games started the next morning and they had to be at the bowling alley at 7 AM. Yes, 7 AM. After food,  the drive to the hotel, and then showers, my son didn’t get to bed until after 1 AM and had to be up at 6 AM. Less than 5 hours of sleep is less than, shall we say, optimal.

And it showed. He is a very good and consistent bowler, but the lack of sleep took its toll. He said he felt fine. His performance told a different tale. He couldn’t hit his marks or make the necessary corrections. He failed to make the first cut.

How Much is Enough?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours. Most truck drivers I know, including myself, don’t get this much sleep. I am a 5 to 6-hour individual myself. There are benefits to getting longer sleep, though. 

  • Sharper Brain Function
  • Better Moods
  • A Healthier Heart (A resting heart allows blood pressure to decrease as well)
  • Better Athletic Performance
  • Steadier Blood Sugar levels
  • Boosts Immune System
  • Weight Control

Sleep allows the body to rest and repair itself. Getting that necessary sleep is often difficult though. There are things we can do to help increase not only the quality, but the quantity of our sleep.

But first, let's look at what “good” sleep consists of. As we sleep, our sleep goes through cycles. These cycles are:

  • REM Sleep: REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. During REM sleep, our brains are most active, this is typically when we have our dreams. REM cycles usually get longer as the night progresses. REM has been shown to help regulate moods and consolidate information from the previous day.
  • Deep Sleep: Deep Sleep cycles have less brain activity than REM sleep. Deep Sleep cycles are typically longer in the early stages of sleep, and they help promote physical recovery and improve memory and learning. It also helps boost the immune system.
  • Light Sleep: This stage usually begins in the early stages of sleep. During this stage, you may easily be awakened. Light sleep helps promote mental and physical recovery.

In my next article, we’ll be looking at the negative effects of the lack of sleep and ways to improve the quality of our sleep.

The Boys took 3rd place in the nation by the way. I could not be prouder.

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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