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I am becoming increasingly convinced that sleep is the single most important factor in our mental and physical health.


I’ve watched my typically delightful three-year-old daughter descend into a torrent of rage and naughtiness when 4 rolls around and she hasn’t had her afternoon nap.


I have staved off many a pesky virus with an extra-long night of sleep.


I often blame my moodiness on the time of the month, but ironically, my moodiness does not happen at the same time every month. However, if I pay attention to my sleep habits, I often find a direct correlation between lack of sleep and feelings of rage and hopelessness.


I also notice that my ability to handle life’s minor irritations and decisions with grace diminishes rapidly when I haven’t had adequate sleep for several nights.


The frustrating thing is, I often don’t realize the root of the problem until I find myself in a pit of despair, and by then it takes at least two good nights of sleep to find my balance again. You’d think that after thirty-six years of this vicious cycle, I’d have disciplined myself to get enough sleep—either that or learned to compensate. But no. Round and round the story goes. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sometimes it even takes my husband pointing out to me my lack of sleep before I realize the source of my angst.


Maybe I need a shut-off timer with an alarm like my coffee maker. Surely with modern technology someone could invent a device to insert under the skin like I’ve seen them do in 24. Except this wouldn’t be a tracking device. It would be an automatic shut-off timer. When 10 p.m. rolls around, it would beep four times and shut me down. I could even program it to give me a thirty-minute warning.


Okay, that’s totally creeping me out now.

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