On April 2, 2003, in the Fitzgibbons Convocation Center, Dr. Martin Moore-Ede, CEO and president of Circadian Technologies Inc., spoke to Milton students about sleep deprivation; his visit was part of the Samuel S. Talbot II ’65 Memorial Fund speaker series.
Recognized as an international authority on making lifestyle adjustments to help cope in our 24-hour society, Moore-Ede was among the first to define the challenges of living, working and sleeping in a our 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week world.
“I’m here today to talk about the subject of sleep. How important is it, anyway?” said Moore-Ede. “One of the challenges in life is keeping alert. We’ve evolved from cave men and women who slept all night and remained active during the day to a society that never stops.”
Moore-Ede asked the audience of 700 students how many of them had slept 10 hours the previous night, or nine or eight. The majority of students responded that they had slept only five, six or seven. Moore-Ede noted that teenagers need at least eight and a half hours to function optimally. A major study of 14,000 11th graders in public schools, he said, found that students slept an average of just 7.1 hours. When Moore-Ede’s son Andrew ’98 conducted a survey of Milton students several years ago, day students reported sleeping 6.6 hours a night, while boarders reported sleeping only 5.9 hours a night.
“In general, if you find that you’re getting the same amount of sleep on the weekends as during the week, you’re probably getting enough sleep. If not, the difference is referred to as the sleep gap.”
Sleep deprivation, said Moore-Ede, affects your rate of error, can cause accidents, health problems and result in a shorter life span. “What fails first?” asked Moore-Ede. Creative problem-solving skills are the first attribute lost, he said, followed by impaired judgment (not knowing when it’s time to do one’s homework, for example), mood swings and low morale.
“If students become very tired, they become zombie-like. They can follow classmates from class to class—but they may wake up to find they’ve entered the wrong classroom,” Moore-Ede quipped.
In fact, national discussion continues about whether to alter the start times of schools to mirror more closely the natural sleep patterns of young people whose hormones dictate a preference for retiring–and waking—late. In the meantime, Moore-Ede recommends the value of napping to the masses.
At Greenwich High School in Connecticut, he said, students started the Power Nap Club. They adapted the Latin “Veni. Vidi. Vici.” (We came. We saw. We conquered.) to “Veni. Vidi. Dormivi.” (We came. We saw. We slept.), and emblazoned the declaration on club t-shirts.
“Instead of being lazy, napping is actually a productive thing to do. Napping is a very powerful tool,” he assured students.
“It’s all to do with timing. Sleep cycles are 90 minutes. If you catnap for 20-30 minutes, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed. If you wake after 40-50 minutes, you might feel groggy [because you’ve entered a deeper state of sleep but not yet finished the cycle],” Moore-Ede said. If a person can’t complete a full 90-minute cycle, it’s much more efficient to take a catnap, also called a power nap. In addition to getting enough shuteye, Moore-Ede recommends separating your sleeping space from your entertainment space and avoiding caffeine or other substances that chemically alter your level of wakefulness.
Moore-Ede also cited the importance of understanding when sleep deprivation can have tragic consequences. The Exxon Valdez and Three-Mile Island accidents occurred, for example, on the night shift while sleep-deprived personnel were in command. More automobile accidents are related to sleep deprivation than drunken driving.
Moore-Ede said that the army has also tested the value of napping when focus and stamina are required for long missions. In a test, two gunnery groups shot at targets for 72. The crew that went without any sleep actually hit fewer targets than the the crew that stopped every four hours to nap for 20-30 minutes: Productivity has less to do with the number of hours “worked” and more to do with the number of hours worked at a high level of alertness.
A Harvard Medical School professor, Moore-Ede led the team that discovered the biological clock in the human brain that controls the timing of sleep and wake, and pioneered the research on how the human body can safely adapt to working around the clock and sustain optimum physical and mental performance. In 1983 Martin founded Circadian Technologies Inc. (www.circadian.com), the leading consulting and publications firm dedicated to managing the 24/7 workforce. Circadian now advises over half of the Fortune 500 companies on 24/7 human capital management.
Moore-Ede has published over 125 scientific articles and 10 books related to his subject. His best–selling book, The Twenty-Four-Hour Society: Understanding Human Limits in a World That Never Stops, offers insights and advice to those seeking time-management solution that respect the body’s need to sleep. He is quoted in major national publications such as The New York Times andNewsweek and has appeared on talk shows including “Good Morning America” and “Oprah.” Moore-Ede is at work on a second volume, Competing 24/7: Investing Human Capital Around the Clock to Gain Strategic Advantage.
Moore-Ede graduated with a degree in physiology, earning first class honors (the British system’s highest ranking) from the University of London. He earned a medical degree from Guy’s Hospital Medical School and a doctorate in physiology from Harvard University. His wife, Donna Moore-Ede, is a clinical psychologist who advises individuals and companies’ senior executive teams on resolving work-life challenges. The couple’s children children, Andrew and Alexandra, both attended Milton.
Established in 1993, the Samuel S. Talbot II ’65 Memorial Fund for Counseling and Community Issues supports Milton’s efforts to teach the community about affective behavioral issues. Past Talbot speakers included Dr. Jean Kilbourne, author of Deadly Persuasion, Joan Jacobs Brumberg, author of the Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls and Olivia Hoblitzelle ’55, a meditation teacher and former associate director of the Mind/Body Clinic at the Deaconess Hospital.