Take Sleep Seriously

I watched this interesting TED talks video about the importance of sleep. It should never be regarded as a waste of time.

He says that lack of sleep leads to:

  • Poor creativity (bad for writing blogs)
  • Poor memory (bad for knowing what you walked to the kitchen for or what you planned to do today)
  • Increased impulsiveness (bad for keeping to a diet plan and bad for keeping a good early bed-time)
  • Poor Judgement (bad for everything)
  • Makes you crave stimulants in the day (bad for giving up smoking or caffeine)
  • Makes you crave alcohol to help you sleep (booze doesn’t actually help you sleep)
  • It makes you hungry for sugar (weight gain and many other problems)
  • It makes you more stressed (bad for the immune system and your health overall)
  • Micro-sleeps (can be deadly). He says that 31% of drivers will have had a micro-sleep while driving at least once in their life. I’m pretty sure it’s more than that.
  • Poor mental health (It seems lack of sleep may be driving us all crazy)

He links tired and stressed leaders and executives making bad decisions with some of the problems of our current times. Can you really make good choices if you are working 100 hours a week and sleeping only four hours  a night? I don’t think I could and these people are also only human.

Another TED talk by Arianna Huffington on how to succeed by getting more sleep:

I’m pretty convinced I need to get more sleep. It could be why I exercise and eat well and yet don’t feel all that healthy. It could be linked to eczema and joint problems and all kinds of inflammatory and immune system conditions. Lack of sleep has been linked to increased systemic inflammation as well as the problems listed above.

How do I do it? How do we sleep better? I have a few ideas from the video. He actually has some practical advice for normal people which is unusual for a TED talk. I’ve added some things I have already learned.

  1. No caffeine after lunchtime. I may have to forgo my afternoon cups of decaf coffee.
  2. No bright light near bedtime. Which means staying away from brightly lit bathrooms and kitchens.
  3. If you need to prepare food for the next day do it right around evening meal time and not just before bed.
  4. Don’t eat your evening meal too late. Which means I should be be done eating by 8pm.
  5. Get ready for bed, brush your teeth etc. at least an hour before bedtime. All these things tend to wake you up combined with the bright light in your bathroom so get all that done earlier in the evening. For me that means about 9pm.
  6. Put some of the lights in your home on a timer so it is less bright before bedtime.
  7. Put your internet on a timer so you have to stop using the computer before bedtime.
  8. Set an alarm for bed time and gradually move the time earlier to adjust your body clock.
  9. Get up at the same time every day including weekends. This will help to fix your natural rhythm.