Amazing Breakthrough!
Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?

Imagine this advertising; would it capture your attention? I know it captured mine.


Or let’s put it the other way around:


Sleeping less than eight hours per night makes you unhappy, less attractive, less intelligent, more hungry, out of shape, less fertile and very vulnerable. It increases your chances of dying in a car accident and also makes it more likely that you’ll suffer from cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s.



sleep is good for your health



How harsh does all this sound to you? It may sound like an exaggeration, but the truth is there are more than 17,000 scientific reports which have supported these claims with clear evidence. However, in reality most of us would underestimate these facts, or simply ignore these consequences.


The good news is people are paying more attention to what they eat lately; a healthy diet is a good start. Regular exercise is also part of the 'healthy menu'; you don't have to run half a marathon, just a nice walking time daily will do for most of us. Then there is sleep - one of those things we all know we need more of, yet we are largely unaware of how important it is and how to improve it.

Exercise and nutrition are widely recognized as the pillars of health, while sleep is often overlooked as a central health component. However, sleep is vital to well-being, mood and longevity. Each pillar of health plays a unique and complementary role in our health. Did you know that, if we are sleep deprived, we make poor food choices, our athletic performance and hand-eye coordination suffer and our mood is compromised? It is also true that most people who are sleep deprived are not aware of it. We simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of our sleep.


sleeping man and dog


A quick test to understand if you are sleeping enough. Answer these 4 questions:

  1. Do you need to read sentences twice?
  2. Do you feel drowsiness a few hours after waking up?
  3. Do you need coffee to feel functional?
  4. Do you always wake up with an alarm instead of waking up naturally?

If more than two of your answers are positive, it’s a clear sign of sleep deficit, so you need to improve your sleep. And HOW can you do that? Understanding it might be the first step towards improving it.

Each of us has a built-in clock called a circadian rhythm. In a nutshell, it’s a 24h biological system which determines certain highs and lows during each day and gives us a baseline for the best time to wake-up, the best time to concentrate and the best time to go to sleep.

Sleep cycles are a specific area of the circadian rhythm; they determine the quality of our sleep. Improving our sleep states, especially getting more deep, uninterrupted sleep, will help us feel much more recharged and refreshed every day.

Environmental factors also play an important role in our sleep quality. Our bodies respond to noise, light and temperature, so we need to sleep in a silent environment, without disturbing lights and with an ideal temperature in order to have good quality sleep once we finally count our last sheep.

So in the end, just like Dr. Matthew Walker reminds us in his eye-opening book ‘Why We Sleep’, Shakespeare was right: sleep is the chief nourisher in life’s feast*.

10 interesting facts about sleep that you may not know:

  1. The best temperature to sleep at is 18°C, which is far lower than most of us keep bedrooms.
  2. Reading on an iPad vs a book affects your ability to fall asleep and reduces quantity and quality of your sleep.
  3. Having a television in the bedroom contributes to a loss of 2 hours of sleep each week.
  4. Blue light affects levels of your sleep at twice the levels of warm light. Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
  5. Being awake for 19 hours is as cognitively impairing as being legally drunk.
  6. If you’re trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is crucial. If you’re on a diet and sleep less than 8 hours per night, 70% of weight loss comes from lean body mass rather than fat stores, compared to under 50% with 8 hours of sleep.
  7. Caffeine consumption causes an average loss of 3 to 5 hours of sleep per week.
  8. Sleep has been shown to enhance athletic performance.
  9. Getting at least eight hours of sleep can improve your immune function and help fight the common cold.
  10. Alarms cause stress responses, raising cortisol, heart rate and blood pressure. Snoozing causes multiple stress responses. However, “life hacks” on how to defeat the snooze button are missing the point – you should be aiming to rearrange your sleeping patterns and habits, so you wake up naturally, without the need for an alarm.

Read our 12 Tips for a Good Night Sleep

If you enjoyed our articles on the important argument of sleep and you’re looking for a great book, we warmly recommend you read ‘Why We Sleep’ by Dr. Matthew Walker. It is very comprehensive and practical, helping you understand and optimise your sleep habits to improve your health. However, it might keep you hooked, so please do not stay up late at night to read it! :)

_____________________

*Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 2

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