Editors note: Below is the speech prepared by Josh Hoisington, winner of the Modern Woodmen of America Civic Oration Contest for the Diocese of Dodge City.
Today I’m sure you have prepared yourself to spend some time listening to our presentations on healthy living. I’m hoping you even learn a thing or two. But don’t feel guilty if your eyelids get heavy and your head starts to droop. I won’t be offended. Sleeping is as important as eating, drinking, and breathing. But I must warn you, as comic writer Anthony Burgess is quick to point out, “Laugh and the world laughs with you; snore, and you sleep alone!”
Maintaining your health is important for a long, high quality life. Making good choices such as eating right, exercising and avoiding drugs are important in maintaining your health. However, getting adequate sleep is just as important to staying healthy. Did you know we spend more time sleeping than doing any other activity? You will spend about 1/3 of your life sleeping…unless you’re Sleeping Beauty, of course.
According to Max Kaufman, “The amount of sleep needed by the average person is five minutes more.” Actually, most adults need about 8 hours of sleep. In addition, most people are diurnal. This means that they are awake during the day and asleep at night.
Founding father Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” There are many benefits of getting enough sleep. It can help you maintain a healthy immune system. It also slows aging, keeps you slim, and helps you feel energized and alert. It can even improve your mood. But these are just a few examples.
Believe it or not, there are downsides to skipping sleep. Did you know that missing just 90 minutes of sleep can lower daytime alertness by as much as 32%? If you are sleep deprived, your body functions in a state of stress. You also have a higher risk for breast and colon cancer.
Some of you might wonder, “How can I tell if I’m getting enough sleep or if I have a sleeping problem?” Someone once defined insomnia as a contagious disease often transmitted from babies to parents. But, actually, insomnia is the inability to fall or stay asleep. Many adults struggle with it occasionally. Our body gives us plenty of signs if we are lacking sleep, but some people don’t notice because they are so used to being sleep deprived. If you get sick often, cry easily, or are klutzy, you may be sleep deprived.
There are several things that can keep us from getting enough sleep. Did you know Chuck Norris sleeps with a night light? Not because he’s afraid of the dark, but because the dark is afraid of him. Sleeping in on the weekends, not sleeping in a dark environment, and even having a messy bedroom can all contribute to poor sleep. Foods and certain drinks can also keep you up at night. Coffee and other products that contain caffeine are known sleep stealers, but there are other lesser known culprits like chocolate, MSG, or greasy foods.
Woody Allen once said, “The lion and the calf shall lie down together, but the calf won’t get much sleep.” Lucky for you, there are some things you can do to sleep better. You should try to be the first to fall asleep. Who can forget the proverb, “The one who snores will fall asleep first.”? If you fall asleep first, hopefully someone else’s snoring won’t keep you awake. You should also establish a regular sleep pattern so you are getting more sleep on a regular basis. Sleep can be improved by avoiding stress, trimming your social calendar, eating more wholesome foods, and cutting out coffee and alcohol.
The early bird may get the worm, but if I was a worm, I would sleep late. There are numerous benefits to getting adequate sleep. Adequate sleep can make you happier and make you better equipped for athletics. These things will gain you more respect and help you feel better physically and mentally.
Now, some people talk in their sleep. Mrs. Wolf talks while the sixth grade class sleeps. Not really, but, if you want to be more alert and productive during the day, take the steps necessary to sleep well at night. You will be healthier and happier. I want to leave you with my favorite thought on getting to sleep: “If you can’t sleep, count sheep. Don’t count endangered animals. You will run out.”