Fatigued? Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Feeling tired? Losing an hour of sleep on the first morning of Daylight Saving Time will do that to you. And for plenty of busy folks these days there's little chance that they'll ever make it up. Just ask our early-to-rise Charles Osgood, who's left us our Sunday Morning Cover Story:

You have to get up pretty early in the morning to keep up with the Joneses … the Jones family of Katy, Texas, that is. They always rise … but they don't always shine.

"I'm usually the first one up," says Brian Jones. "And I usually set my alarm for maybe 5:00."

"I don't want to get up most mornings," laughs Kyra Jones.

First, Brian gets Kyra - a nationally-ranked swimmer - to practice.

Then Rio is off to school: "To be at my bus stop, I leave the house at 6:40."

Deanna Jones is an executive at an oil field services company. She often brings work home with her, when she isn't traveling.

"And I can be up till 2 o'clock in the morning and not even realize until you kind of look at the clock and go, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe it's that late,'" Deanna said.

Oh, and Deanna runs marathons, too. And Brian is a trained chef and an avid cyclist.

With all that activity, they've all gained an appreciation for sleep:

"When I don't get enough sleep, it affects my grades," Rio said.

"And so we've made conscious changes in the way that we budget our time, so that we have that time to sleep," Deanna said.

To help achieve that bit of balance, Deanna Jones turned to Natalie Gahrmann, a "life coach" who works with busy executives and their families.

"We've decided that 'busy' is a badge of honor," Gahrmann said. "If someone says to you, 'Oh, what are you doin'? What have you been doin' these days?' It's not, 'Oh. I'm sittin' around. Doing nothing.' [It's] 'I'm so busy!'"

Gahrmann finds that as we all try to make more time for work, school, or play, there's one thing we usually do not take into account.

"Is sleep an ingredient in this?" Osgood asks.

"Ooooh, big time," Gahrmann said. "People are so sleep deprived, it's ridiculous."

A study out this past week finds many Americans are, in fact, chronically sleep-deprived. In 1960, we averaged 8-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. And now?

Just six hours and forty minutes.

It's not enough, according to Dr. Matt Ebben, a sleep specialist at Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York.

"On average, people tend to need about seven to eight hours of sleep per night," Dr. Ebben said.

A big reason we don't get that much sleep is work. The new survey finds Americans work an average of 9-and-a-half hours a day, plus an extra 4-and-a-half hours a week working from home.

And among the sleep-deprived is Osgood, who gets up in the middle of night, arriving at CBS Studios by 5:00 a.m. to put "The Osgood File" on the radio, along with my producer, Ray Bassett.

"My producer will come in every so often and just peek in the door, just to make sure that I haven't fallen asleep in front of the computer," Osgood said.

"And do you sometimes fall asleep?" Dr. Ebben asked.

"I've been known to do that, but that's very rare," Osgood said. "But he would worry about it."

"And that's typical of people that reduce their sleep time to less than seven hours," Dr. Ebben said.

For Osgood, "A long night's sleep would be six hours - something like that."

As Dr. Ebben analyzed Osgood's sleep habits, he talked about what can happen if you don't get enough sleep: "Generally, what the studies show is when you sleep less than seven hours per night, you have a buildup of different cognitive deficits. So for example, reaction time is reduced."

Which helps lead to an estimated 100,000 car crashes a year caused by driver fatigue.

Lack of sleep has also been linked to memory loss, a weakened immune system, and even diabetes.

But despite all that, we try to push through.

"Well, coffee can be helpful for sleep deprivation only if you use it sporadically," Dr. Ebben said. "You develop a tolerance to it very fast so if you drink it every day, it won't help you. But if you drink it every third day or so, or only when you're very tired, it can help you feel more alert."

Coffee remains the gold standard of caffeine delivery systems. You need about 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine to wake you up, and an average cup of coffee will get you there.

The energy drink Red Bull has a bit less caffeine: 80 milligrams.

A drink like Diet Pepsi Max has 46 milligrams, not nearly enough to get you back to a state of alertness, whatever the ads claim.

And it turns out that like so many things in life, timing is everything.

"What most people don't know is how to use [caffeine] strategically," said sleep researcher Mark Rosekind. "So it ends up, caffeine takes about - these are averages - 15 or 30 minutes to wake you up mentally. And then, it lasts for three to four hours."

That's the word from Rosekind. Formerly of NASA, he now runs a California company called Alertness Solutions. He compares sleepiness to drunkenness.

"If you lose two hours of sleep, that can impair your performance equivalent to having had two to three beers. So, you know, you wouldn't go to work that way, hopefully - not drinking, but we do that with a couple hours of sleep loss."

Rosekind is a big supporter of sleeping on the job - literally.

Taking inspiration from Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison and Winston Churchill - nappers all - he's studied the benefits of napping.

In one experiment, commercial pilots on long-distance routes were analyzed as they took short naps.

After 26 minutes of sleep, performance went up by 34 percent, and their alertness went up by 54 percent.

[And you thought naps were for wimps!]

"See, this is part of our cultural bravado, right? 'I gave that up when I was a kid.' 'What? You wanna do that here, at work? You want some milk? Your jammies, maybe? And a little blankie and stuff?'" Rosekind said. "Instead, you know, I challenge people. Who'd you rather fly with? The pilot that's 34 percent better performance and 54 percent more alert? Or the one who's, you know, having lapses and literally micro-sleeps during descent and landing?"

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