Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Want to be healthier, smarter, more creative? Get some sleep!

Courtesy Flickr User thejbird  (CC BY 2.0)
I've written about the importance of sleep before.  The research suggesting that sleep is vital to our health -- physical, psychological, cognitive, and emotional health -- could reach from here to the moon and back if you started piling it up.

Here is the latest in a long series of articles that I routinely bookmark: Why You Should Sleep Your Way to the Top.  In the article, Dr. Matthew Walker, neuroscientist and psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley (where he runs a sleep research lab) talks about the relationship between sleep and memory, learning, and emotions. 

The whole article, which is in easily-readable interview format, is worth a read. Here are some key excerpts:
I would argue that, if you look at the other main biological drives—things like eating and drinking—it’s fairly clear that the lack of one night of sleep causes detriments to your brain and body that far exceed anything you would see from a lack of food over the same duration of time.  In fact, studies on animals in the 1980’s demonstrated that rats will die as quickly of sleep deprivation as they will from food deprivation. Sleep is that essential. 
When you are sleep deprived, the frontal lobe and the amygdala become disconnected, and so you become all emotional gas pedal, without sufficient brake.
Socially appropriate responses and controlled emotional reactions are quintessential for cooperation and interactions with others, so sleep loss has the potential to impact such processes.
[R]esearch has clearly demonstrated that if you restore and normalize sleep in different severe mental health conditions, you can see very significant clinical improvements.
Many of the emotional benefits that sleep provides involve taking the painful sting out of difficult emotional experiences from the day before, or balancing our reactivity to next-day emotional challenges. Sleep even improves our capacity to recognize different and specific types of emotions in people’s faces more accurately. 
Sleep before learning is critical; but you also need to sleep after learning, and to take that new information and essentially cement it into the neural architecture of the brain.  More recently, we’ve realized there’s an additional benefit for learning. Sleep is much more intelligent than we have previously considered. It not only takes individual pieces of information and saves them and protects them, but sleep can intelligently cross-link new pieces of information together. As a result, you can start to extract commonalities and develop novel insights into problems that you were having the day before.
We’ve found that sleep will  more than triple  the probability that you’ll figure out [a] hidden rule. Sleep seems to inspire a creative insight into previous problems and challenges we’ve faced.
Sleep seems to support such a remarkable and broad constellation of different functions. Not just the brain; your body also benefits dramatically, your immune health, your metabolic system, your cardiovascular health. Indeed, there is not one major tissue or organ in the brain or body that is not benefited by sleep. 
Simply put, the single most important thing you can do each and every day to reset your brain and body health is to sleep. Once you start to get anything less than about 7 hours of sleep, we can start to measure biological and behavioral changes quite clearly.  People will say, “I can get by on 4 or 5 hours of sleep.” But your subjective opinion of how you’re doing with insufficient sleep is a miserable predictor of objectively how you’re doing with insufficient sleep. Essentially it’s like the drunk driver at the bar picking up his keys after a couple of drinks and saying, “No, no. I think I’m fine; I’m perfectly fine to drive.”

Friday, August 09, 2013

Purposeful Influence: Keynote at Connecticut Library Association Leadership Institute, August 9. 2013

Here is the slidedeck from Purposeful Influence, my Keynote at Connecticut Library Association Leadership Institute University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT August 9. 2013.  You can download the slidedeck (with full text of talk in notes field) at Slideshare

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tame the Web Guest Post: A Tipping Point for Mindfulness Meditation?

I am honored to have a guest post up at Tame the Web in honor of the blog's 10th Anniversary. 

Happy Anniversary Michael, and thanks for continually using your voice to expand our thinking and uplift the quality and tone of conversation in our profession!

IMG_3815Malcolm Gladwell famously defined the “tipping point” as that magic moment when an idea or practice crosses some invisible threshold, tips, and spreads widely throughout a culture or society.  Lately I’ve been wondering if the practice and benefits of mindfulness meditation are hitting that tipping point.
The many benefits of mindfulness meditation have been known to Buddhist monks and western scientists alike for many years.  But it is only recently that mindfulness seems to be recognized in the workplace as a valuable practice worth promoting and fostering among employees.

read the rest of the post at Tame the Web

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Very Heart of It. Keynote for Urban Libraries Unite (ULU) Conference, April 5, 2013

Here is the slidedeck from my recent keynote, The Very Heart of It, given at the Urban Libraries Unite (ULU) Conference in Brooklyn, NY on April 5, 2013. Note that the full text of the talk is available as a pdf (with slides) at:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

University of Rhode Island GSLIS Keynote: Influence When You Have No Power or Authority

Here is the slidedeck from my recent keynote, Influence When You Have No Power or Authority, given at the University of Rhode Island GSLIS Conference in Kingston, Rhode Island, March 23, 2013.  Note that the text of my talk is available in the notes field of the powerpoint which can be downloaded from Slideshare.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Support your library PAC: EveryLibrary for every library!

An open letter to the New Jersey Library Community:

Have you heard the news about EveryLibrary, the new PAC being formed to support libraries across the country?  

EveryLibrary has the potential to be an enormous help to thousands of libraries, but right now it needs our help to get off the ground.  EveryLibrary is conducting a $50,000 fundraising round from September 5 to November 7, 2012 to underwrite the fees associated with its legal filings and to create campaign toolkits, voter education materials, and messaging targeted to 2013 election initiatives.

Please join with other NJ library colleagues in lending your support by clicking here:

A LITTLE MORE ABOUT EVERYLIBRARYEveryLibrary is a nonpartisan PAC registered under section 501c4 of the U.S. Internal Revenue code. Most library associations are organized as 501(c)3 educational associations which are legally prohibited from engaging in direct voter advocacy or funding political campaigns. As a 501(c)4 organization, EveryLibrary can act where these associations (like NJLA and ALA) cannot. The opportunity to fund-raise and directly support library ballot initiatives will be unique in the library world.

EveryLibrary will raise funds nationally and spend them on local library ballot initiatives like tax rates, bonds, and other referenda, as well as serve as a consulting organization for libraries on their political campaigns.  As EveryLibrary founder (and former Membership Chair extraordinaire for ALA) John Chrastka says, "Any library ballot initiative anywhere matters to every library everywhere."  Check out this great interview with EveryLibrary creator John Chrastka for more info on the EveryLibrary vision.

The brilliant Dave Lankes (who keynoted at our NJLA conference last Spring), writes, “I was very excited to hear about EveryLibrary. A PAC that it is dedicated to…'support these [local library funding] campaigns through non-partisan, pro-library voter education and get out the vote work.'  I love it!...More than making folks feel good about libraries, or love reading, here is an organization meant to directly support libraries at the local level with funding."

I've donated to the cause because I believe EveryLibrary will ultimately benefit, well, every library. If the spirit moves you, please show your support for this groundbreaking organization by donating here.

And as long as you have that credit card out why not make a donation to NJLA too- I did!  :-)

Thanks everyone,