20 FebSleep – a non-negotiable, biological necessity

We humans are the only species that deliberately deprive ourselves of sleep. Just let that sink in. In our world of ever-increasing demands and as technologies continue to grow, sleep is often the first thing we compromise. Sometimes in society it is almost considered ‘impressive’ to make it through a whole day or a task with very minimal sleep. But why do we do this to ourselves?

Sleep impacts EVERY single bodily system. Today let’s talk about just how important sleep is for aspects of our wellbeing:

Cognition:
20 to 21 hours of being awake gives you the cognitive capacities of being drunk. This means that if you get behind the wheel, you are just as dangerous to yourself and everyone else around you as a drink-driver.
With just one night of sleep deprivation, there is a 40% deficit in learning. Consider this before you pull a super late night to study for a test or get something done.
There is a very clear association between sleep quality and cognitive decline. This is something that you may not notice now, but more so with age, and it may pre-dispose you to Alzheimer’s.

Cardiovascular System:
Sleep is a better form of medication for blood pressure regulation than any drug currently available.
With one hour sleep loss in a night (day-light savings), there is a 24% increased incidence of heart attacks the following day. With one additional hour of sleep, this incidence drops back down by 21%.

Metabolic System:
One week of only 5-6 hours of sleep can turn ‘healthy’ people into the pre-diabetic classification. That’s just how important sleep is for the regulation of insulin.

Immunity:
After one night of only four hours sleep, there is a 70% drop in natural killer cell activity. These are considered your ‘cancer killing’ cells. Due to this there is a clear link between lack of sleep and cancer risk.
You are 200-300% more likely to catch a cold with 5-6 hours sleep per night compared to eight hours.

Weight Management:
Within one week of 5-6 hours sleep per night, there is a significant increase in hormone that makes you feel hungry (grehlin) and drop in hormone that makes you feel full (leptin). With this amount of sleep, you will also eat 500-600 more calories per day.

Reproductive health:
For men, 5-6 hours of sleep per night can significantly decrease testicular size, and gives you the testosterone levels of someone ten years older.

Basically, sleep is a ‘non negotiable, biological necessity’.

Now, these are some pretty staggering statistics and I hope they help you to prioritise sleep more. In many circumstances it can be difficult to ensure you are getting plenty of sleep – but don’t worry, it’s not all negative – there are some small things that all of us can be doing to help increase our sleep quality. Stay tuned to our upcoming blogs to find out more.

Tamika Hassum – Accredited Exercise Physiologist

References and to find out more:
Sleep is your superpower | Matt Walker
https://www.ted.com/speakers/matthew_walker