More powerful than you can possibly imagine?
The third installment in our investing in health series. We previously talked about diet and exercise.
Today we are going to talk about a powerful factor that many people overlook: sleep.
You may think sleep is important to keep alert, but it is possibly as if not more important than anything else you can do for your health.
Insufficient sleep can result in disease, weight gain, problems concentrating, mood issues, depression, and even death.
Japan is one of the worst places in the world for sleep. The fact that Japanese has a word for 'death from working too much' tells us a lot about the culture here, and karoshi is almost always linked to sleep deprivation. School children are almost encouraged to trade sleep for activity, and this continues into university and working life.
The elderly get to sleep when they want, but as I am discovering as I get older, in a cruel ironic twist often are not physically able to.
Studies seem to show that successful applicants to prestigious universities sleep more than their unsuccessful peers.
I certainly find that I can't concentrate, feel crappy, and am extremely irritable when I haven't slept enough.
Being sleep deprived is worse than being drunk in terms of making decisions and reaction time -makes you think about getting behind the wheel, eh?
As if that weren't enough, it seems as though lack of sleep drastically increases hormones that promote weight gain. And sleep deprivation is linked to increased risk of cancer and heart attacks. Eeek.
So what can we do?
I find that when I get into a good sleep routine I feel great, and when I get thrown out of one I feel much worse. Like any habit it needs to be triggered, maintained, and supported. Things that help me are:
- not using a computer in the evening
- setting a time to stop doing things and start getting ready for bed
- waking up at the same time every day
- making sure my bedroom is dark enough
- keeping the room cool(ish)
How about you? Any hints to maintain good sleep? Are you one of the freakish few that can get by on substantially less sleep than the rest of us?