Take 5 minutes out FOR YOUR HEALTH...

On March 11, 1998, an interview was broadcast on Bay TV (local cable channel 35 in San Francisco) between anchor Beth Ruyak and sleep researcher Dr. James Maas.  The following transcription was created by scott richie for Winky.

Beth Ruyak:  I know why I was given this assignment because I just started this shift and this is the no-sleep shift; I call it the zombie shift.  (laughter)  So our next guest is of great personal interest to me.  Dr. James Maas is a sleep researcher at Cornell University, and he says more than half of us are not getting the amount of sleep we need, and it's not just making us tired.  Sleep deprivation can have side effects from memory loss all the way to death.  He has written a book that's called Power Sleep, how getting those crucial eight hours can improve your life more than you think.  Good morning.

Dr. James Maas:  Good morning Beth.  

Beth Ruyak:  Good morning.

Dr. James Maas:  Are you all awake? (laughter)

Beth Ruyak:  All the jokes...I hear people saying, "Hi. How are you?" and I say, "I'm wide awake, wide awake!" (more laughter)...but, really, this has become a topic that has ignited everybody since the 20/20 segment and some of the other national coverage - - everybody's talking about - - I think the recognition, don't you think so?

Dr. James Maas:  Yeah...

Beth Ruyak:  ...that we live in sleep deprivation.

Dr. James Maas:  That's right.  If when you say 'I'm a great sleeper, the minute my head hits the pillow I'm out', that's not great sleeping.  That's a sign of deprivation because the well rested person takes 15 to 20 minutes to go to sleep.

Beth Ruyak:  Did you have a sense that it - - that so many people in the country would connect with this?

Dr. James Maas:  Well, we've done a recent survey.  Back in 1879 Edison gave us the electric light and the back side of the night.  Before that we were sleeping 10 hours; then it went to 9; then it went to 8; now it's averaging 7 with a third of us getting 6 or less and those people are absolutely exhausted during the day.  At work it shows up in a lack of productivity.

Beth Ruyak:  Tell me about the latest in sleep research, because you talk about the crucial 8 hours.  I have also heard people say the number of hours doesn't matter, it's how well you sleep in whatever time you do sleep.

Dr. James Maas:  Well, it's - - it's both.  You want continuous sleep of an adequate nature to make sure that you have met your sleep requirement - - your individual sleep requirement.  And for most people that's 8 hours.  
We have a lot of macho people saying, 'Oh, I get by on 6 or 7', but they are getting by; they are no where near their peak performance.  As a rule of thumb, most of us would increase our productivity by at least 25%, and certainly our mood, if we got 1 (one) more hour of sleep; that is, we went to bed one hour earlier instead of surfing the web or staying up watching late night television.

Beth Ruyak:  Are we just checked out to how great it would feel to be a real healthy, steady human being, and that we've lost a memory of that so we exist in this sleep deprived state.

Dr. James Maas:  Absolutely.  People think that sleep is a luxury.  It's not.  It's a necessity.  We are operating, Beth, on half of our battery and people who follow the rules, and the strategies in Power Sleep tell me after three weeks, 'Jim, I never knew what it was like to be awake before.'  It's like a religious convergence, but I'm not selling snake oil, there's no medicine here, there's no pills here.  It's just getting back to the basics of what a good nights sleep is, of adequate length and uninterrupted.

Beth Ruyak:  You know, you say it, and that's exactly the page that I flagged in your book and it's one of the simplest.  Listen to this: the golden rules of sleep.  They're so basic: get enough sleep every night; have a regular sleep schedule; the continuous sleep; and make up for your lost sleep.

Dr. James Maas:  That's right, and by getting a regular schedule, that means, going to bed every night at the same time Monday through Monday, and waking up at the same time, including weekends, Monday through Monday, without an alarm clock.  If you need an alarm clock to get up, you are sleep deprived.

Beth Ruyak:  Well, right there, that's the part people can't do.  Most people can't even go to bed at the same time every night.

Dr. James Maas:  Well, it's a matter of life choice.  People say there are not enough hours in the day, but if you follow the rules and the twenty strategies what you will find is you are so much more efficient, so much more dynamic, you won't need all of those hours.  If we operated machin- ery like we're operating the human body right now, you would be accused of reckless endangerment.  It's that bad.

Beth Ruyak:  Well, we have serious insomnia problems in our country and if we've got all these people who can't sleep, and you have twenty strategies, starting with someone who is way off the charts...what's number one, where do you begin?

Dr. James Maas:  Well, you begin by finding out what your need is, and the book tells you how; some people need 7, other people need 9 or even 10.  And then what you have to do is arrange the stage for the theatre of the night - - your bedroom; quiet, dark and cool.  You want to develop some relaxation techniques.  Some people find sex before bedtime is very soporific.  Other people like to read and relax, take a warm bath, do easy stretching - - but, avoid alcohol after 6, no tobacco, and avoid chocolates and caffeine after 2 in the afternoon.  Just by following those rules as a start you're going to be the person that you've always wanted to be.  You are going to be happier.  You are going to be healthier.  You are going to be the spouse that you wanted to be, you're going to be the parent that you wanted to be and the worker you wanted to be.  You'll get in touch with yourself.

Beth Ruyak:  Something I want to mention in the book, by the way, is you do address children of different ages, and their sleep issues, and dealing with parents who are overtired dealing with those children and nighttime routines, and I appreciated that.

Dr. James Maas:  That's right, and shift workers, and travelers - - it really is important for a traveler to know what he or she is doing in terms of choosing a seat on the airplane and demanding certain things of their hotel rooms.

Beth Ruyak:  Yeah.  What time's your bedtime?

Dr. James Maas:  My bedtime is 8 hours before my time to get up.

Beth Ruyak:  O.K.  So that's our way around a set bedtime every night, just making sure we have our 8 hour pocket. 

Dr. James Maas:  And setting a regular time every single night.

Beth Ruyak:  Dr. James Maas, and the book is Power Sleep, but the advice could save our lives, really.  Thank you very much.

Dr. James Maas:  Thanks Beth.

Beth Ruyak:  Have a perky, chipper day.

Dr. James Maas:  Thank you.  Sweet dreams.

Beth Ruyak:  Thanks.

[end transcript]

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...nothing new here in this part of the Universe since
11:57 A.M. P.S.T., Thursday, June 11, 1998

last updated on Monday, July 19, 2010 at 9:03 P.M. P.S.T.

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