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Isn’t sleeping a waste of time?

July 10, 2020, Author: Toni

You’ve heard Warren Zevon’s quote, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Perhaps it’s been your  guiding principle to seize the moment, go with the flow, and push the need for sleep down. The tendency of ignoring a need for sleep has become a way of life for some and we’re often unaware of what we do that sabotages sleep. We then have the audacity to be irritated when sleep eludes us. Getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours a night seems like an elusive unicorn. The reality is that we’re disconnected from the mini choices we make that inhibit our body’s ability to sleep. It might occur to us to make different choices or do something about not getting enough sleep but then we ask ourselves; why do we need sleep anyway? Isn’t it just a waste of time?

Here’s a laundry list of what researchers have linked to a lack of sleep.

  • If you’ve had less than 5 hours of sleep and drive; you’re three times as likely to crash your car.
  • You are more likely to have a serious accident because the ability to think clearly has decreased.
  • You’re less able to think through a problem and more likely to engage in risky behavior.
  • You’re more likely to be overweight.
  • Less likely to engage in social interactions.
  • You’re 45% more likely to have cardiovascular disease.
  • Just losing 1 to 2 hours of sleep a day can lead to increased blood pressure and weakened arterial walls.
  • Your brain ages quicker and you’re more at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • The brain becomes overloaded with stress hormone, cortisol, which adds to a condition of chronic stress and over reacting to situations.
  • Your ability to learn is impaired.
  • You have memory problems.
  • Your immune system is compromised.

Here’s a list of what is known to take place during sleep:

  1. Toxins are cleared and nerve destroying illness are prevented.
  2. Daily experiences are processed and the intensity of emotional reactions is decreased.
  3. Memory and emotions attached to an event are separated. This may not seem like much to you but it’s priceless to someone desiring to getting over a traumatic event.
  4. Short term memories are turned into long term memories and information we don’t need is forgotten.
  5. You’ll be able to recall more information after sleep.
  6. Pressure inside our veins is decreased; allowing for the walls of veins to strengthen.
  7. Hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes, and proteins are balanced.
  8. Memories are consolidated.
  9. Emotions are regulated.
  10. You can coherently process thoughts.

Ultimately, brain researchers point out that sleep is universal and a fundamental experience of all life.  Researchers used to think sharks didn’t sleep because their eyes didn’t close. Then they discovered that sharks don’t have eyelids and sleep anyway. Do yourself a favor and let the research really sink in. Hold your habits up to a mirror and ask yourself if keeping some habits are really worth it. Decide now to become mindful around the practices and habits you have that are not conducive for sleep. Make it a priority to create the conditions necessary for sleep and do what is necessary. It’s more important to your overall health and for your purpose. You have a role to play. You’re needed at the best you can be. Sweet dreams.  Sign up for my newsletter, Surrender to Sleep, for tips on developing good sleep hygiene.