Sleep Leaves No Man Behind
Weight… When you sleep only 4-5 hours a night, your body craves foods high in sugar and fat translating to an extra 400 calories per day. That’s 34 pounds of extra fat a year. Gasp!
Exercise… ↓ Sleep → ↓ energy → ↓ exercise and ↑ sedentarism.
Compound this with craving unhealthy foods and we’ve got the perfect recipe for weight gain.
Mental health… Sleep largely regulates our mood. A lack of it leads to a 60% increase in amygdala reactivity, a key spot for triggering anger and rage. But, we didn’t really need that data, did we? We all intuitively know how “pleasant” we are during those 4am airport mornings.
As well, people with poor sleep tend to develop depression more than those who sleep well. It can also be said that people who suffer from depression have more difficulty sleeping, but Walker believes that this is a two-way street and that sleep should be prescribed.
Productivity… The Center of Human Sleep Science at UC Berkley has shown that “shorter amounts of sleep predict both a lower work rate and slower completion speed of basic tasks.” Basically, under-slept employees are underperforming employees.
Memory… In a Harvard memory study, student volunteers stayed up for 35 hours, viewed a series of images, and then took a memory test. Compared to those who got adequate sleep, they scored an average of 19% worse when trying to remember those images two days later, even after catching up on their sleep. This is because sleeplessness impairs the ability to learn new information. For all you fellow nerds, yes – we can blame the hippocampus’ lack of activity for this one.
Immune System… Dr. Aric Prather conducted an interesting experiment where he tracked people’s sleep and then introduced a live culture of the common cold virus up their noses (they were volunteers might we add). He found quite a direct relationship where less sleep the week before facing the virus meant you were more likely to be infected and catch a cold. For those who slept five hours on average, the infection rate was almost 50% (compared to 18% for those sleeping > 7 hours). This couldn’t be more relevant in our current world. While a lot of us feel helpless in this fight, sleep is one thing we can control to keep our immune systems strong.
Mama knows best
Lugavere points out a strange, yet audacious decision made by Mother Nature. She made sure that, throughout history, even while being preyed upon regularly, we’ve spent 1/3 of our lives unconscious. It was worth risking our lives to obtain the invaluable benefits of sleep.
Insight from Max Lugavere and Matthew Walker