[This is a Toastmasters speech that I delivered last month, March 2013 at my local club]

I woke up this morning feeling groggy. Slight weakness I felt while dragging my sleepy feet doing my morning chores getting prepared to come to work like any other days. Maybe you have gone through one of these sleepy head morning yourself dear Toastmasters when your body would like to go back to bed in the warm comfort of a comforter and snuggled to your loved one, but your alarmed mind would snap back at you for that foolish desire to take the extra nap in the morning of a busy weekday. Wishful thinking, huh!

The main reason that a person can feel sleepy in the morning is not having enough sleep the previous night because of being immersed in a donkey party or staying awake watching late night comedy show in TV. The current scientific research from respected scholars suggests that a healthy human being needs between 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. A baby sleeps much more than that, and when you reach a certain age like 60s or 70s or more, the number of hours a person can sleep generally decreases, but I understand there can be exceptions to this rule.

What happens when quality sleep is missing from a person’s life? Some of the effects can be quite obvious. For example, you may forget to turn on your right turn signal at a busy road crossing like the driver just before me this morning did, causing me to press hard on brake and stopping the car a few inches away from the suspected sleepy head. Or like about 15 minutes later the same morning, when I proved to be the sleepy bony head too, and almost hit a car by failing to interpret the oncoming car’s truest intention taking a left turn. I felt lucky both time. I or the other driver did not become one of the statistics in accident registers saved somewhere in Police or traffic division.

Almost every morning on my drive to work or returning to home, I see multiple accidents, some of them severe, on Deerfoot Trail, flashing cops car, emergency vehicles surrounding one or two or even more cars that collided, their bonnets shriveled like a mere tin can, glass windows shattered on the road, and frantic and blaring alarm sound of rushing ambulance to help the drivers or the passengers of the damaged vehicles are disturbing imageries. Scary scenes indeed, while these accidents create the very ordinary looking long lines of furious cars on a busy roadway, taking away valuable time from people’s lives spending in traffic jam as if there is nothing better to do.

Car accidents are not the only devastating impacts that lack of sleep can have on human beings. It can negatively affect a person’s concentration span. Yes, caffeine loaded coffee or black tea can surely help temporarily, but the caffeine has its own problem that is better to left for another discussion, but it is suffice to say that any temporary measure to remove the sleepy head has negative health consequences in the long run.

One alarming news came to my attention recently through BBC online that states that having less amount of sleep than the prescribed 7 to 8 hours per night affect human heart as the heart does not get to its resting pace that needs, and in the long run it weakens the hurt muscles and contribute into heart disease and other ailments.

So, what are the steps we can take to assure a restful sleep? A few of them I find useful are:
  • Do regular cardio vascular exercise, like running, jogging or walking
  • Don’t exercise at least two hours before sleep
  • Don’t overeat during dinner
  • Turning off all digital devices when nap time approaches
  • Keeping a regular sleeping pattern, like setting a time at night for going to bed
These are my personal findings but these steps can help you too. I know all of these rules by heart, but hey, I am a human being full of frailty and contradictions like most mortals. So, in many nights I forget my own rules, and stay awake for the silliest reason you can imagine, like last night, watching old episodes of Star Trek Enterprise at Netflix, not one, but two full episodes, the battles between 22nd century’s human space explorers and exotic aliens like Xindi or Kleon from faraway planets, time travelling, Vulcan’s desperate attempts to humor kept my mind occupied well past my set bed time, and even when I went to bed, I could not fall in sleep right away, and did not have a quality sleep I needed. And that was the reason I was groggy early this morning with slightly dizzying head, sleepy eyes, and driving a car in wintry condition among many more like me sleepy heads on a chilly road. Not a good idea, but that’s what life is, full of stupidity that we can easily choose to avoid like a responsible citizenry should do.