This thing called sleep
This thing called sleep
What if I told you that science has developed a new treatment that will extend your life, improve your memory, enhance your creativity, make you look more attractive and help keep you slim? What if in addition, I said it will protect you from dementia, cancer, help keep colds and the flu at bay, reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes? Would that get your attention? Would you be willing to try it, especially since its free? I sure would – and do! What am I talking about? The proven benefits of a full night of quality sleep (7-8 hours). I’ve written about the importance of sleep before (“Sleep – how important is it?” 17 July 2018), but the more I read about sleep, the more it fascinates me.
Why does our culture look at sleep the way it does? Even though new research is uncovering evidence about the physical, mental and spiritual impact of lack of sleep, many people continue to boast about how little sleep they need, as if it was something to be proud of. Some of our biggest names routinely brag about getting by on five hours of sleep a night. What’s behind our society’s attitude toward sleep? The Internet has encouraged our hectic, 24/7 lifestyles. The great thing is that we can connect to just about anybody, anywhere, anytime, but the bad thing is that there’s always someone, somewhere who is awake. We pull all-nighters as students and work into the wee hours as we climb the career ladder. Why do we do this? Maybe it’s because sleep is one of the most puzzling human behaviors, and we have yet to discover why we sleep.
The almost-unbelievable benefits of shut-eye
I just finished reading the international bestseller “Why We Sleep,” by Matthew Walker. Not only did this book “open my eyes,” I never felt the urge to nod off while reading it. It’s a fantastic read. Matthew Walker believes society’s strange view of sleep is because science has failed to explain why we need sleep. Many people seem to live by the old maxim,” I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Unfortunately for them, they may be able to do that much sooner than they think. Depriving yourself of sleep is deadly. We sleep for many reasons. In fact, there’s not one major organ in the body or process within the brain that doesn’t benefit from sleep, according to Walker.
What goes on when we sleep
Many people tend to underestimate the importance of sleep – until they are suddenly deprived of it. “Proper, healthy sleep is one of the most basic things that can either hold you back or propel you forward towards your goals – whether they’re fitness related, intellectual, professional or even emotional goals,” says another sleep guru, Dr. Kirk Parsley, MD, who served as the Naval Special Warfare’s expert on Sleep Medicine. Sleep (along with stress) is a huge factor that plays an instrumental part in people’s weight and health success or failure. If you get an adequate amount of restful sleep at night, your health will improve. Sleep affects EVERY aspect of your physiology, psychology, or any other “-ology” out there. Memories are formed, consolidated, trimmed, examined and reinforced. Tissues repair, regenerate and grow. Immune function is increased. Diseases are fought. Waste is removed. Neurotransmitters, cellular signals, nutritional elements, and hormones are balanced – all while you sleep,” according to Dr. Parsley.
Reclaim your right
Anytime you see someone who looks 10-15 years younger than their age, unless cosmetic surgery, etc. is involved, it’s because that person takes care of their body and mind. And this MUST include adequate sleep, i.e., seven to eight hours of quality sleep a night. So, the next time you feel like pulling an all-nighter, think about the effects this will have on your body. And remember, you’ll start feeling these effects before you even get in bed to recover! Reclaim your right to a full night of sleep without any stigmatism or embarrassment attached to it. And be sure to pick up a copy of Matthew Walker’s “Why We Sleep.” You won’t fall asleep reading it, although I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you did.