ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH? No, it is not what you think!
Over one million people from 250 countries had their sleeping habits examined for a study in 2000. Almost 50% said that they required 8 hours to feel well rested. Only 15% reported that they managed to have this much sleep. Since the invention of electricity, humans have stayed up longer than their natural circadian rhythm and now, blue light emissions from our various digital technologies keep the brain awake even more. However, we are ignoring our need to sleep at our peril, as there are direct correlations to a lack of sleep and ill health. Not to mention overall grumpiness and lower productivity!
When do you think that your brain is at its most active? In the morning, afternoon or evening? In fact, your brain is at its most active when you are asleep. Sleep is essential to wellbeing and the brain does its housekeeping when you are in the land of nod. This embeds learning, forms memories and processes information and emotions: your brain is doing its admin and filing. As sleep is so important to mental health, it is one of the reasons that sleep deprivation is used as torture.
Yet, many people are choosing to replicate situations from war every week by refusing to listen to their body. There is an attempt to be super-human, with the false and fashionable belief of e.g. “I only need four hours”. Yes, we can get through a day with little sleep (usually when we are in our twenties, not that I know of course!) and there are outliers who require more or less sleep than the average human. However, when examined more closely, often the less than seven hour brigade are napping during the day and having long lie-ins at the weekend etc to make up for their sleep debt.
In addition, to daily brain maintenance, get more sleep to:
Cut the chance of suffering from high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Reduce the risk of a road accident: when sleep deprived your brain can nod off for a few seconds without you being aware, especially as the eyes can remain open. It is thought that these ‘micro sleeps’ are the cause of many collisions.
Support you to achieve your goals: your brain comprises only 2% of your weight but uses 20% of all the energy that your body produces. When you are sleep deprived your body struggles to extract glucose from the bloodstream and so your brain cannot think straight. Therefore, you will find it harder to muster willpower.
Utilise growth hormone and repair function: if you want to build muscle, repair wounds and have an optimum immune system, get some sleep.
Lower the risk of premature ageing: if the other reasons don’t persuade you, then surely this one does!
“Many sleep scientists recommend that you only sleep and have sex in your bedroom (although, presumably, not at the same time).” – Richard Wiseman