Scare yourself to Sleep
Why it’s so goddam important
Sleep your way to the top
Apologies, just needed a click bait title.
But it’s not completely false.
We all want to perform at the TOP of our game and the only way to do that, is to have an immune system that can keep us sickness and disease free.
Contrary to popular information on the Gram, consuming turmeric lattes or shelving spirulina is not the best way to protect your immune system.
It is SLEEP.
Now what I love about Sleep is that it’s free, what I dislike about sleep is that you need it (I hate being dependent on anything but alas sleep, water, food, oxygen and and old episodes of Curb are most definitely required for homeostasis).
When people send me questions about their health, more specifically when they mention they feel stuck with their health, I often answer with more questions:
Are you covering the basics?
Food, Hydration, Movement and you guessed it - SLEEP.
Now I’m about to throw some pretty scary research findings at you, I don’t want to alarm you, but I’m going to anyway in the hopes that it will help you to feel motivated enough to prioritise your sleep.
SLEEP AND CHRONIC DISEASE:
Type 2 Diabetes - Insufficient Sleep has been linked to increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. More specifically this study has highlighted the negative effects that poor sleep quality and insufficient duration has on your Hb1Ac which is a blood sugar marker (basically a test of how much glucose is in your blood vessels - the longer you’ve had sugar in your blood for, the higher your hb1ac will be).
Dementia - when it comes to dementia itself, it is unclear as to whether a lack of sleep causes it, or dementia causes a lack of sleep. In terms of dementia risk this longitudinal study highlights an increased risk of dementia development with mid-life insomnia.
Depression - insomnia and depression again can frustratingly effect each other. A lack of sleep can increase depressive episodes (17% to 50% of subjects with insomnia lasting 2 weeks or longer developed a major depressive episode - this longitudinal cohort study found) and likewise depression can very commonly cause bouts of insomnia.
Cardiovascular Disease - This research review looks at the relationship between sleep deprivation and Hypertension and Coronary Heart Disease. Sleep duration of less than 5 hr per night was associated with a significantly increased risk of Hypertension in subjects between the ages of 32 and 59 years.
Ok so perhaps we’ve had enough of the bad news…
MORE BAD NEWS…
“MEN WHO SLEEP 5 HOURS A NIGHT HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY SMALLER TESTICLES THAN THOSE WHO SLEEP 8 HOURS OR MORE.”
“MEN WHO ROUTINELY SLEEP 5-6 HOURS HAVE TESTOSTERONE LEVELS OF SOMEONE 10 YEARS THEIR SENIOR - SO A LACK OF SLEEP AGES YOU BY A DECADE.”
~Dr. Matthew Walker, Director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab and author of ‘why we sleep’ - a book that will scare you and yet also cause you to rearrange your wellness priorities.
Because prolonged lack of sleep reduces the strength of our immune system and triggers the stress response (HPA Axis), other things like Female reproductive health are also effected.
Ok shall I stop?
I think I should stop.
We get it.
I’m stressed out just thinking about it - I can only imagine how tricky it must be for parents and/or shift workers who have no choice in the matter.
Never fear, good news is around the corner I promise. Or at least some potential practices that you can employ to improve your chances of a good nights sleep:
3 THINGS YOU CAN DO TONIGHT TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP:
Set a reminder 30 minutes before bedtime, to begin your pre-bed rituals. iOS has a great BEDTIME feature that links in with the Health app and reminds you of when to go to bed (if you want to get XXX amount of sleep). As soon as that reminder goes off I am straight upstairs to clean my teeth, stretch, breathe, read and sleep.
Pre-Bedtime Stretch and Meditation routine - I’ve prepared one for you right here. If you have youtube premium you can save it for offline use too (which means the next video won’t come streaming straight in afterwards, waking you out of your slumber).
Reduce your pre-bed artificial LAN (light at night) - bright lights before bed can effect your circadian rhythm and spike more cortisol (potentially surpassing melatonin the sleep hormone). An hour prior to my bedtime I have very low level lamps and fairy lights on (I know, total basic bish, but I need my sleep). If you’re a parent this will actually help the children calm down too.
What are your favourite pre-bedtime routines that you can’t live (or sleep in this case) without?
I’d love to know.