I recently listened to a podcast that featured Dr. Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, whose work Ive been following for some time now.
Dr. Walker is the Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science and the author of Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.
When it comes to taking care of and tending to my personal health, I see four facets that play together. Sleep, obviously, is a major factor.
- Diet (healthy eating)
- Environment (pollution, physical surroundings)
- Stress (managing + reducing it)
- Sleep (quantity + quality)
For a while now, Ive been tracking my sleep because, for a long time, I struggled with getting a full eight hours per night Initially, it’s not too bad. But then all of a sudden, it just hits you. The lack of sleep becomes a lot to deal with at times and anyone going through this would do anything to finally get a good night’s sleep. It then comes as no surprise to find that people look into using alternative products like godfather og strain, in the hopes of getting to sleep easily.
I’ve tried a lot of remedies, even as far as glasses that are supposed to help you sleep better after secreting too little melatonin, such as these from Felix Gray, for example.
I have tried natural remedies like crystal healing or sourcing plants I could keep in the bedroom that have been proven to help with sleep.
See how natural remedy, Sleep Essence by Flora, can help with falling and staying asleep.
In the podcast linked above which I highly recommend listening to Dr. Walker recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night. He goes on to share that research shows anything less than seven hours can negatively affect all facets of our overall health.
Here are some pretty crazy facts that I had no idea about regarding sleep and how it impacts our health!
GENERAL FACTS ON SLEEP LOSS
Men who sleep five to six hours per night will have the testosterone levels of someone 10 years their senior. That is to say it can age you by up to 10 years, give you a lack of virility and muscle strength, and reduce sexual performance.
Half of your brain will not sleep as deeply as the other half when youre traveling. This is a threat detection reaction from being in a foreign environment. That half wont enter the REM sleep cycle, remaining in a lighter stage of sleep.
Marijuana, whether it is in the form of edibles, CBD sprays or CBD oil, has been seen to help put people to sleep quicker. It could be as simple as choosing to click here for more information, as this may be the answer to finally getting a good night’s sleep. A good friend of mine uses cannabis for this exact reason. If you are considering using cannabis as a sleeping aid you can Click here to visit this website to find a strain that can help you to relax and unwind.
I love something that Dr. Walker shared in the episode: he said It took Mother Nature 3.6 million years to establish this eight-hour sleep cycle for us. And in the last 100 years or so, weve been knocking it back by almost 20 percent which is terrible for us.
It took Mother Nature 3.6 million years to establish this eight-hour sleep cycle for us. And in the last 100 years or so, weve been knocking that back by almost 20 percent which is terrible for us.
SLEEP + OUR GENERATION
A lot of the content shared in the podcast was super interesting and informational, but it was also completely new for me. I guess Id never properly done the research myself before. So, in a (tiny) effort to measure the sleep health of my generation, and compare the results to see how I stack up, I opened up a few polls to my Instagram followers (20.5k followers at the time the poll was taken). Some of the questions + answers are listed here:
Q1: on average, I am asleep for less than six (6) hours per night.
- True: 27%
- False: 73%
Q2: on average, I am asleep between 6 – 7 hours per night.
- True: 54%
- False: 46%
Q3: on average, I am asleep between 7 – 8 hours per night.
- True: 57%
- False: 43%
Q4: on average, I am asleep between 8 – 9 hours per night.
- True: 31%
- False: 69%
Q5: on average, I am asleep for more than nine (9) hours per night.
- True: 6%
- False: 94%
Q6: Do you often feel stressed, tired, high-strung, anxious, and/or sluggish.
- True: 69%
- False: 31%
Question six highlights just some of the words our generation is using to describe how they feel on a daily basis. Lack of sleep and feeling tired was a common theme among many responders.
Dr. Walker states that more than half the American population isnt getting the recommended seven to nine hours per night. And one-third of the population is trying to survive on less than six hours per night.
Why is it that our generation isnt getting enough sleep? Is it us?
Conditional factors? Diet? Pollution? Constant adrenal stimulation? Being overworked?
Or worse, all of the above?
I think its pretty clear to many of us that getting a full nights rest is key to overall good health. The science behind it, though, is what drives me to learn more.
Getting a full nights sleep helps to expel a buildup of fluid in the brain, clearing out toxins and stress hormones that have accumulated during the day.
If a full night of quality sleep allows our mind, body, muscles, and organs to rest and recover, why are so many of us suffering from sleep loss?
I honestly believe that for a lot of us, particularly those working in corporate, our lack of sleep is a combination of:
- Being overworked
- Constant adrenal stimulation
- Too much screen-time
- Diets high in sugar + starchy carbs, but low in fiber
THE SLEEP + DIET CONNECTION
Diets high in sugar and starchy carbohydrates and low in fibre, those diets tend not to be good for sleep. You tend to have less deep sleep and also more fragmented sleep throughout the night. – Dr. Walker
I can personally relate to losing sleep, particularly when I was working the corporate 9:00-5:00, (really it was 7:00-5:45), juggling several projects and careers at once. Though I still today experience sleep loss from time to time, Im getting better at identifying the culprit and correcting it.
BUSINESS LEADERS + SLEEP + CORPORATE LIFESTYLE
A part of the podcast that really struck me was on underslept employees and the impact on our workforce. Studies show that underslept employees:
- Will take on fewer work challenges overall
- Take on simpler tasks or challenges and rely more on their peers
- Produce fewer creative solutions to challenges theyve been given
- Will slack off more and exhibit social loafing where they coast on the work of their colleagues
Lack of sleep doesnt discriminate, though. It goes all the way up to the top with leaders themselves.
Studies show that the more or less sleep a business leader gets the prior night, the more or less charismatic their employees will rate that business leader despite them knowing nothing at all about the sleep of that CEO or leader. Its evident in their behaviour, their nature, their posture and countenance, and interactions with others.
The ultimate takeaway for business leaders and those working in corporate: less sleep does not equal more productivity.
We really shouldnt be over-evaluating employees who under-sleep.
NATURAL REMEDIES TO HELP WITH SLEEP
Some of the natural remedies Ive tried include:
- Adding plants to the bedroom
- Using the lavender-scented Saje sleep well kit
- Lighting vanilla and lavender candles before bed
- Floras SleepEssence, natural sleep aid
- Soaking in an Epsom salt bath before bed
- Eliminating food, exercise and water intake two hours before bed
- Meditation, alone and/or with the use of phone apps
Some meditation apps really do seem to help in the moment but not as it relates to deeper, more significant nights of sleep.
You may know of my affinity for the health brand Flora from previous collaborations with them:
- Why I Started Drinking Wheatgrass Juice Regularly
- Red Beet Crystal Chia Pudding
- Vegan Omega 3+6+9 – Udos Oil
I recently came across a sleep aid on their website called SleepEssence. And I liked it. I found that it really did help me to fall asleep more quickly, and I found that I tossed and turned less while using it.
Its a natural sleep aid, entirely organic, and formulated primarily from chamomile flower, lemon balm, lavender flower, linden flower, passion flower aerial parts, and other natural ingredients.
TIPS TO HELP FALL + STAY ASLEEP
From some of the research Ive done online and some of what Dr. Walker shared in the podcast, here are tips to help fall asleep and have a more meaningful, quality nights rest:
- Make the room cold – at least 3-4 degrees below room temperature.
- Keeps hands and feet warm where possible. (i.e., wearing socks on your feet).
- Adjust your diet or time that you eat so that you arent going to bed too full or too hungry. (Hunger can signal your brain that youre going into low level starvation).
We need to radically rethink the way we approach sleep in general life, business, education and medicine. – Dr. Walker
Prioritizing sleep above all else.
Ive seen many under-slept employees be over-evaluated for what they could accomplish on so little sleep, only to reach a breaking point soon afterward.
As a society weve seen business leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, both vociferous with their statements of only getting four to five hours of sleep. Yet, both ended up developing Alzheimers Disease.
Less sleep does not equal more productivity.
My biggest learning in all of this is just how important sleep is (if not more important than diet) to our overall, general health. I really do believe that our general health comes down to four factors: diet, environment, stress, and sleep. And each has to be tended to carefully, but sleep IS and SHOULD ALWAYS be high priority.
If you arent currently getting between 7-9 hours, rethink your approach. Be good to your body. Listen to your body. Give yourself what you need. Sleep.
Nick Joly | Inspired by Nick
Be Good To Your Body
Thank you to Flora for sponsoring this post!