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Sleep-Loss

Catastrophic Sleep-Loss Epidemic May Shorten Your Life

Getting too little sleep isn't good for your health - and that isn't a surprise to most of us. While some people believe they are exceptions to that rule, that just isn't the case.  Sleep-Loss is turning into an epidemic!

Do you doubt the importance of sleep for good health?  If so, this article on theGuardian.com is a must-read: The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life: the new sleep science.  It is based on input from a sleep scientist, Matthew Walker. Matthew is the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

Sleep-Loss is a Serious Condition

"Walker wants major institutions and law-makers to take up his ideas, too. “No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation,” he says. “It sinks down into every possible nook and cranny. And yet no one is doing anything about it. Things have to change: in the workplace and our communities, our homes and families. But when did you ever see an NHS poster urging sleep on people? When did a doctor prescribe, not sleeping pills, but sleep itself? It needs to be prioritised, even incentivised."

What are the Effects of Sleep-Loss?

So what are the ill effects of too little sleep?  (Especially when it becomes a habit)

  • Low energy and disease. With sleep, there is vitality and health. 
  • The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life (backed up by many large scale studies).
  • Higher heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • More chance of heart attack or stroke
  • Less responsive to insulin
  • More susceptible to weight gain
  • Less motivation
  • Impaired immune function
  • Increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease

Yikes!

What to do about Lack of Sleep

Now you know that getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is really important.  But sometimes that is easier said than done, right?  What do you do to give yourself an opportunity to get enough?

Do what Matthew does and give yourself a nightly "8 hour opportunity" to sleep.  If you do have trouble sleeping due to worry or rumination, take the advice of Todd Robinson and use a "Speed Bump Phrase" to help.  Read Good Night Brain: Mindfulness Techniques for Sleepless Nights.

Or take the advice of Susan Grotenhuis, who gives 5 ways to help you get more sleep. 2 suggestions are backing away from devices emitting blue light 2 hours before bedtime and getting a lot of early morning light.  Get all of Susan's tips at Secrets of the Sleeping Brain.

About the Author Staff Writer

Our staff writers come from various backgrounds in the neuroscience, personal development, brain science and psychology fields. Many started out as contributors!

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