How much sleep do you get a night? 6 hours? 10 hours? None at all?
You see lack of sleep everywhere. Mothers chugging their coffee because they only slept 4 hours last night, office workers staying at work until midnight to get a project done, or gamers up until the wee hours of the morning because they lost track of time.
Let’s get to the serious stuff. Matthew Walker, a sleep scientist, says, “just one night of only four or five hours’ sleep, your natural killer cells – the ones that attack the cancer cells that appear in your body every day – drop by 70%, or that a lack of sleep is linked to cancer of the bowel, prostate and breast, or even just that the World Health Organisation has classed any form of night-time shift work as a probable carcinogen.”
Walker also mentions during his recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast that even just an hour difference changes your cardiovascular health. When the world goes into daylight savings and loses an hour, heart attacks rise by 24%. When we get that hour back, heart attacks decrease by 21%. Walker says, “That’s how fragile and vulnerable your body is”.
Our society is big on burning the candle at both ends. Less sleep = more success…. Walker says, “we have stigmatised sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honour.” Sleep needs to be seen as an investment in your health and future.
Sleep is time for your body to replenish itself. Walker also talks about a study that took healthy adults and allowed them to only sleep for 6 hours a night for 1 week and the results were terrifying. They compared the profile of gene activity relative to when those same people were getting 8 hours of sleep a night. In just one week, 711 genes were distorted. About half of those genes increased their activity and the other half decreased their activity. Want to know which ones? The ones decreasing their activity were the genes related to your immune responses so the lack of sleep was making these adults immune definicent. The genes that had an increase of activity were related to promotion of tumors, stress, and chronic inflammation of the body.
Science is showing undeniable truths about sleep and we need to listen.
What do we do from here? How can we change the narrative about sleep? We should be bragging how much sleep we got instead of the other way around!
It’s coming to light that rest and recovery is a huge component of health but people are not sure what that means. People may think that rest and recovery just means not working out one day but sleep is a part it!
How much sleep should you get?
The golden rule is 8 hours a night. Did you know that women need more? It is recommended that women get up to 9 hours a night! Why? Women’s brains are way more active and need more time to rest.
So, now what?
The best way to make an improvement is making better habits and taking baby steps.
Set better intentions with an alarm
Maybe for the first week, set an alarm 5 minutes earlier than when you go to bed to prompt you to go to bed earlier. Gradually increase that to 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 13, 15 etc until you get to your desired bedtime to allow you to have 8-9 hours of sleep.
Limit your electronics
Try to put down that remote and phone! Give yourself an hour before bed to read a book, listen to a podcast, music, or practice some sleep-friendly yoga! Find something you love to do that is screen free! This will help your body get ready for the sleep ahead.
Quality is just as important as Quantity
Your quality of sleep is so important. Make sure you invest in a great mattress, pillow and sheets. Any artificial light can affect your sleep so make sure the room is as dark as possible. If you’re an essential oils fan, diffuse some lovely lavender! If you sleep better with white noise, grab a white noise machine and put it on rainfall or anything that relaxes you. Make your sleep as luxurious as possible!
Sleep should be at least ⅓ of your day, make sure you give yourself that time to rejuvenate and rest 🙂