There’s one more thing: I think the desire to live a meaningful life is universal. To some people, it’s working toward a goal. To others, it’s enjoying every minute of every day. So what does it really mean to live life to the fullest? Maybe striving to win a Nobel Prize and going skydiving are just two sides of the same coin. To me, it’s not about achievement or self-gratification. It’s about knowing that you’ve pushed yourself, body and mind, to the limits of your own potential. You feel it when you’re sprinting, and when the piano piece you’ve practiced for hours finally comes to life beneath your fingertips. You feel it when you encounter a life-changing idea, and when you do something on your own that you never thought you could. If I died tomorrow, I would die feeling I’ve lived my whole life at 110 percent.
What works in many cases, said Morin and Edinger, is to standardize or restrict a person’s sleep to give a person more control over his or her sleep. A person can keep a sleep diary for a couple of weeks and a clinician can monitor the amount of time spent in bed to the actual amount of time sleeping. Then the clinician can instruct the patient to either go to bed later and get up earlier or visa versa. This procedure improves the length of sleeping time by imposing a mild sleep deprivation situation, which has the result of reducing the anxiety surrounding sleep. To keep from falling asleep during the day, patients are told not to restrict sleep to less than five hours.