Introducing Sleeping Beauty

Think you’re alert? Find out here.

I am a Weiss Presidential Fellow and Professor of Psychology, Communication and Education at Cornell University. I have been a sleep educator/researcher since 1969 and in my 47 years on the Cornell faculty I have had the pleasure of teaching over 65,000 undergraduates. Hopefully my experience will be of help to you in these columns and on my website.

woman asleep

o Do you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow?
o Do you need an alarm clock to wake up?
o Do you sleep extra hours on weekends?

If you answered "yes" to these questions (and to others we’re about to ask you), you’re sleepier than you should be. You might feel alert enough to get through the day, but you're probably performing well below your potential. Most people don't value sleep and have no idea how tired they really are. There are various elaborate and expensive laboratory tests that objectively measure sleepiness, but we can make a pretty thorough assessment based on how you respond to The Maas Robbins Alertness Questionnaire (MRAQ). The 20 statements help differentiate between well-rested and sleep-deprived individuals.

The Maas Robbins Alertness Questionnaire (MRAQ)
©2011, Dr. James B. Maas and Rebecca S. Robbins

Please indicate true or false for the following statements:

True False
T F 1. I often need an alarm clock in order to wake up at the appropriate time.
T F 2. It’s often a struggle for me to get out of bed in the morning.
T F 3. Weekday mornings I often hit the snooze bar several times.
T F 4. I often feel tired and stressed out during the week.
T F 5. I often feel moody and irritable, little things upset me.
T F 6. I often have trouble concentrating and remembering.
T F 7. I often feel slow with critical thinking, problem solving and being creative.
T F 8. I need caffeine to get going in the morning or make it through the afternoon.
T F 9. I often wake up craving junk food, sugars, and carbohydrates.
T F 10. I often fall asleep watching TV.
T F 11. I often fall asleep in boring meetings or lectures or in warm rooms.
T F 12. I often fall asleep after heavy meals or after a low dose of alcohol.
T F 13. I often fall asleep while relaxing after dinner.
T F 14. I often fall asleep within five minutes of getting into bed.
T F 15. I often feel drowsy while driving.
T F 16. I often sleep extra hours on the weekends.
T F 17. I often need a nap to get through the day.
T F 18. I have dark circles around my eyes.
T F 19. I fall asleep easily when watching a movie
T F 20. I rely on energy drinks or over-the-counter medications to keep me awake.

If you answered “true” to four or more of these statements, consider yourself seriously sleep-deprived. Future website columns will address this issue in detail.

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