Do you think you got enough sleep this past week? Can you recall the last time you woke up without an alarm clock feeling refreshed, not needing caffeine? If the answer is "no" you are not alone. Two thirds of adults throughout all developed nations fail to obtain the recommended 8 hours of nightly sleep.
I doubt you are surprised by this fact, but you may be surprised by the consequences. Routinely sleeping less than 6 or 7 hours per night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer's disease. Inadequate sleep, even moderate reductions for just one week, disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic. Short sleeping increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting on the path toward cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure. Further sleep disruption contributes to all major psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, and suicidality.
Perhaps you have also noticed a desire to eat more when you are tired? This is no coincidence. Too little sleep swells concentrations of a hormone that makes you feel hungry while suppressing a companion that otherwise signals food satisfaction. Despite being full, you still want to eat more. It's a proven recipe for weight gain. Worse should you attempt to diet but don't get enough sleep while doing so, it is futile, since most of the weight you lose will come from lean body mass, not fat.
Add the above health consequences up, and proven link becomes easier to accept: The shorter you sleep, the shorter your life span. The old "I'll sleep when I'm dead" is therefore unfortunate. Adopt this mindset, and you will be dead sooner and the quality of that shorter life will be worse. The elastic band of sleep deprivation can stretch only so far before it snaps. Sadly, human beings are in fact the only species that will deliberately deprive themselves of sleep without legitimate gain.
As humans there are 4 basic different drivers for life:
1. To Eat
2. To Drink
3. To Reproduce
4. To Sleep
Sleep is infinitely complex, profoundly more interesting, and alarmingly more health relevant. There does not seem to be one major organ in our body, or process within the brain, that isn't optimally enhanced by sleep.
Sleep takes 25 to 30 years away from our life on average, there must be a reason why such a thing could be so important!
Sleep dispenses a multitude of health-ensuring benefits, yours to pick up in repeat prescription every 24 hours, should you choose and may don't!
Within the brain sleep enriches a diversity of functions , including our ability to learn, memorise and make logical decisions and choices. Benevolently servicing our psychological health.
Downstairs in the body, sleep restocks the armoury of our immune system, helping fight malignancy, preventing infection, and warding off all manners of sickness.
Sleep reforms the body's metabolic state by fine tuning the balance of insulin and circulating glucose, sleep further regulates our appetite, helping control body weight through healthy food selection rather than rash impulsivity. Good sleep maintains flourishing microbiome within your gut which we know so much of our nutritional health begins. Adequate sleep is intimately tied to the fitness of our cardiovascular sleep, lowering blood pressure, whilst keeping our heart in fine condition.
A balanced diet and exercise are of vital importance but we now see sleep as the preeminent force in our overall health. The physical and mental impairments caused by one night of bad sleep dwarf those caused by an equivalent absence of food or exercise.
To finish blog number 1 on sleep - Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day. Mother nature's best effort yet at contra-death.
The above information is taken from the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.