There are many health issues associated with chronic sleep deprivation. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, compromised immune systems, and obesity. Even if we’re not focused on these concerns, most of us at least want to feel good about the way we look and naturally turn to diet and exercise for a fix. But without getting enough sleep, all our efforts to get fit may be thwarted. As Sleep Expert Matthew Walker PhD, points out in his interview with Joe Rogan, “If you’re dieting but getting insufficient sleep, 70% of the weight you lose will come from lean body muscle rather than fat.” Don’t undermine your efforts by neglecting your sleep! Ideally, you want to maintain as much lean muscle as possible to avoid losing strength and endurance (which leads to decreased physical performance.) Make sure you get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep to support your health regimen.
Minding your Mind
Dr Walker also addresses the relationship between lack of sleep and degenerative brain disease, stating: “Insufficient sleep across the life span now seems to be the most significant lifestyle factor in determining whether or not you’ll develop Alzheimer’s.” Experts often compare sleep deprivation to the effects of being intoxicated—it inhibits learning, impairs cognition, and slows reaction time. Research shows we retain 40% less information when we’re sleep deprived. We also find it more difficult to focus which decreases work performance and leads to a higher incidence of work-related injury. Driving while drowsy accounts for more car accidents than alcohol and drugs combined. Conversely, a good night’s sleep boosts creativity and getting regular quality sleep has the potential to both prevent and treat brain disease by regulating circadian rhythms.
Regulating your Moods
Being excessively tired during the day makes it hard to get along with ourselves, let alone others. When we’re moody and out of sorts, it creates great strain on our personal and business relationships. It can also lead to depression and mood disorders; sometimes affecting our normal participation in important daily activities including practicing proper self-care. The relationship between sleep and depression is bidirectional, meaning sleep deprivation has a causative effect on depression, and likewise, depression is often responsible for sleep issues like insomnia. It can be a vicious cycle. Missing as little as 1.5 hours of sleep has a profound effect on the way you feel. The Cleveland Clinic recommends scheduling your sleep to make sure you allow adequate time to get the sleep you need to live a happier, healthier life.
Getting more Deep Sleep
It’s not just about the number of hours you need to sleep each night. Slow-wave deep sleep is critical to your overall health. This part of the sleep cycle plays a crucial role in cognitive function, memory consolidation and brain restoration. The best way to ensure you’re achieving slow-wave sleep is to make sure you’re allowing (scheduling) enough total sleep time. Check out the National Sleep Foundation for recommendations on how much sleep you really need.
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