Sleep is a funny thing. You spend the first 12 years of your life trying to stay up as late as you can, then for the next 8 continue this way or give in and all you do is sleep.
Then after this most of us want to cherish sleep. We crave it. Thats why we hate cardio in the morning or even getting an early flight to go where we have always dreamed, because we know we feel better from more sleep. On average you will spend 36% of your life sleeping, which means if you make it to 90 years of age you would have slept 32 years of your life. 32 years!
Lack of sleep can be detrimental to your health/motivation/relationships/recovery - both mental and physical and yet normally about 5 mornings a week we are awoken by an alarm sound ruining our sleep cycle/body clock.
Humans, Plants and Animals all have chemical clocks that are built around the environment, normally light and dark (day and night). For example it has been proven if you take a horseshoe crab out of it's environment and fly it thousands of miles away and put it in a float cage it will still move in harmony with the tide it came from, all those thousands of miles away.
I know what your thinking what does a crab have to do with my sleep?
If you take person and put them in a bunker underground they will awake at the same time every day and then gradually get later and later. Usually by 15 minutes. This proves you have your own body clock and to work at optimum levels your body needs you to fulfil this day after day.
So what happens when you don't have enough sleep/enough quality sleep?
- Higher stress levels
- Lack of cognitive recovery
- Lack of Physical recovery
- Less Motivation
- Less ability to learn a new task
- Reduced ability to recall stored information (Memory)
- Reduced Creativity
- Increased Impulsiveness
Yet the society that we live in that is more health concious than ever before forces us to lose something that is vital to our health and well being. In the 1950s people had on average 8 hours of sleep a night but in 2013 people had an average of just 6.5 hours of sleep.
If you get less than 5 hours of sleep per night, you have a 50% chance of becoming obese and more than likely a much higher chance of weight gain. Which none of us want when it comes to being lean. This is because lack of sleep causes a chemical reaction in the brain to crave carbohydrates, in particular sugars. Which 90% of the time, for health enthusiasts, is not good news.
Turn off the screen
The optimum way to get sleep is to have the room as dark as you can for a good half an hour before you try to get to sleep. But what do we all do? Watch the news at 10, check the Muscle Rage Twitter, text loved ones goodnight, send late emails and of course brush our teeth with a very high wattage light bulb overhead.
The next thing we need to do is make the room cool. Which again is easier said than done, due to the fact we all have the fire or central heating on through the winter and in the summer most of us do not have some form of air conditioning due to the lack of brilliant weather in this country - although this year has been brilliant.
We hear all the time phrases such as ‘sleep is for those who are broke' and that 'you have to be willing to give up sleep to succeed’. Which if your company is in a huge growing stage or you have been preparing for a huge presentation is correct. However for the majority of your life you are most likely to perform at a optimum capacity when you get a good 8 hours of sleep per night.
Source 1. - Russell Foster - Why do we sleep - ted.com
Source 2. - Jessa Gamble - Our Natural sleep cycle - ted.com