Sleep as we know it, is an important state of mind that I believe is slowly being neglected in the Western society. It has always been interesting to me how our society equates people who sleep less to people who are harder working and has a higher chance of being successful in life. People often brag about how less sleep they are getting in order to be more productive with their work, and we often hear motivational speakers on YouTube or social media talking about how sleep is a factor that requires sacrificing in order to become successful.
Ironically, statistics and research has shown us the exact opposite. Despite so, we some how still believe that doubling the amount of time being awake will somehow generate a higher output of productivity. If we cannot accept the facts, we can put aside evidence based science and rationally walk through WHY sleep is important.
From an evolutionary standpoint, we cannot stop to wonder why on earth (no pun intended) the necessity to sleep is maintained in a world of survival of the fittest. Sleep must be of IMMENSE importance to our survival for it to be maintained not only in our ancestry, but across ALL living organisms. It makes absolutely no sense how every organism on this planet who fights to survive during their wakefulness some how needs to go into a state of complete vulnerability. Sleep must be of great importance to survivability.
Now if you want to pull statistics in, the single study that is done every single year that involves 3 billion people on this planet has shown that, one hour of sleep deprivation is enough to increase the risk of heart attack by 25%. This study is called the Daylight Saving Time. The striking thing about this is that, during the time when we gain back an hour, heart attack visits to the ER dropped by 21%. Since sleep deprivation does not only just affect the cardiovascular system, global studies also find increased reports of injures at work, stroke incidence, car accidents, and temporary bump in suicides during the spring time when we lose an hour of sleep.
When we sleep, our brain goes through cycles of REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stages. In the simplest terms, NREM is when we enter what we call a deep sleep, this is the stage when the enter a stage of neural collaboration. During this stage scientists have found massive electrical spikes of brain wave activity. This is a demonstration of brain cells being extremely active and deliberately attempting to synchronize everything that was experienced during wakefulness, it is at this stage when memory is consolidated, this includes cognitive functioning and motor functioning as well. Studies have also demonstrated that it is only during sleep that we are able to utilize our cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) to clear our all the by products or toxins that was build up from wakefulness, in order to provide a clearer mind to better absorb more information the next day.
How many hours shall we sleep you ask? Leading scientist Matthew Walker says, any less than 7 hours of sleep is enough to impede and severely affect our cognitive functioning. There are people however in this world, who are able to function well with just 5 hours of sleep on average. However, you are more likely to be struck by lightening a few times than have the luxury to function well cognitively with just 5 hours of sleep. Food for thought.
I will discuss more about sleep in later blogs.,.