Updated: Jun 17, 2019
Sleep is something that we often underrate as something we can skip on, but as you read on, I will show you why it is so essential for overall health and wellness. Maybe you think "I have too much to do" or "I run better on less sleep," or "I am a night owl." I have used all these excuses and have suffered for it.
Sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity - Dr. Matt Walker.
Let's get the bad things out of the way and finish with the positive. One in three people suffers from a lack of sleep, which is big. So what some of the things that happens to us when we don't get enough sleep?
Gain weight because of an increase in hormones and increased appetite.
Can cause heart/vascular problems, sleep helps us to repair our bodies, and the increased stress affects our cardiovascular system.
Lose concentration = more accidents, less focus, loss of quality work.
You get older, sleep ages you around 10 years.
Increases risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Causes anxiety and makes you want to be less social.
Can increase our sensitivity to pain
Moodiness, fatigue, irritability = bad attitude
The only disability in life is a bad attitude.
- Scott Hamilton
One of the most important reasons we need good sleep is it helps lock in short term memories to long term memories. Our short term memories are stored in the hippocampus and that is like a flash drive, if we don't get good sleep we lose that flash drive, losing those memories. We need sleep to hit that save button and retain information and memories.
To further emphasize the above point, Dr. Matt Walker (quoted above) did some research on lack of sleep for studying. His two groups were getting a full night sleep vs a sleep deprived group. They were both given a list of facts to memorize. The sleep deprived group did 40% worse than the full night sleep group.
To achieve WELLNESS, you need to sleep. It seems that only older people and babies have the innate wisdom that sleep is what we need. Everything is better with sleep, everything! You want to stay healthy = sleep; you want to be smarter = sleep, you want to be more creative = sleep, you want to lose weight = sleep, you want to improve your work and/or school = sleep. Sleep is our emotional first aid." - Dr. Walker. The road of success in life is paved with good sleep. "
A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.
So, now that we know all of life's problems can be cured with sleep :), how do we get better sleep? Pretty much everything our body needs relies on consistency and sleep is no different. You need to decide on a time you want to be asleep, get to sleep, and then try and wake up at the same time, even on your lazy days. Some other helpful way to get better sleep are chiropractic adjustments, don't eat before bed, regular/consistent exercise, get some actual sunlight in the morning without sunglasses (preferably 30-40 min), try and make your bedroom a little cooler than the rest of the house and dark, hot bath/sauna prior to bed, and probably the hardest for me don't use your devices in bed.
How much do we need varies on what kind of stresses we put through our bodies, but everybody needs to try for at least seven hours.
I have given you the keys to success in life, now go and sleep your way to success :)!
Additional Information and referenced material
Why We Sleep - Dr Matt Walker