Getting enough sleep is a highly underestimated factor in extending your lifespan.
Sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and well-being.During sleep, the body undergoes essential processes for repairing, rejuvenating, and restoring various functions.
It’s essential to aim for 8 hours of sleep each night. If you believe you can function well on 5 or 6 hours of sleep, scientific evidence does not support that notion.
Dr. Matt Walker, a sleep expert and author of the book “Why We Sleep,” emphasizes that “Sleep is the most effective way to reset our mental and physical health on a daily basis”. There is a direct correlation between the quality of your sleep and how long you live. In “Why We Sleep,” Matt highlights that less than 7 hours of sleep per night can be detrimental to the health of almost the entire population.
For most people, consistently getting 8 hours of sleep enhances;
1. Memory retention
In terms of brain function, regularly getting good sleep compared to poor sleep can decrease the brain’s ability to retain new information from 100% to 60%
2. Improves concentration
Sleep allows the brain to restore and consolidate information, enhancing memory and recall. It helps maintain a healthy balance of neurotransmitters crucial for attention and focus. Adequate sleep reduces sleepiness and fatigue, promoting alertness and sustained concentration. By aligning with the body’s circadian rhythm, sleep optimizes wakefulness and cognitive performance. Sleep also helps regulate stress and anxiety, improving concentration on tasks. Additionally, it enhances problem-solving and decision-making abilities. Prioritizing sufficient sleep supports better concentration and overall cognitive function, allowing individuals to perform tasks effectively and efficiently.
3. Boosts creativity
During sleep, the brain consolidates information, connects unrelated ideas, and forms new associations. This process, known as memory consolidation, enhances creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.
Sleep really plays a crucial role in learning and memory. Throughout the night, we go through cycles of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where dreaming occurs, and deeper non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. These cycles facilitate the transfer of information from short-term to long-term memory.
REM sleep, with its associated mental imagery, also fosters creativity by establishing new connections between ideas that may not be apparent when we are awake. Matt’s research indicates that REM sleep functions as overnight therapy, helping us process difficult experiences more effectively.
4. Stabilizes emotions
Good sleep. Good Mood.
Research indicates that individuals who experience sleep deprivation often report elevated levels of negative moods, such as anger, frustration, irritability, and sadness, alongside a decline in positive moods.On the other hand, it is essential to recognize that obtaining good sleep can positively impact mood. When individuals experience restful and sufficient sleep, they often report improved mood and emotional well-being. Adequate sleep can help reduce anxiety, stress, and irritability, promoting a more positive and balanced emotional state.
Individuals can enhance their overall mood and cultivate a positive outlook by prioritizing healthy sleep habits and ensuring proper rest.
5. Strengthens the immune system
During sleep, our bodies produce a variety of proteins, including cytokines, which play a crucial role in our immune system’s function. Cytokines act as messengers facilitating communication between immune cells, orchestrating the body’s immune response to infection and inflammation. They help regulate the inflammatory process, promote the activation of immune cells, and enhance the body’s ability to fight off pathogens. Adequate sleep ensures the proper production and release of cytokines, which supports a robust immune response, strengthens the body’s defenses, and contributes to overall immune system health. By prioritizing quality sleep, individuals can optimize their immune function and improve their ability to combat infections and reduce inflammation.
6. Enhances athletic performance
Sleep is vital for athletes and non-athletes and essential for overall health and well-being. It allows the body to restore and function at its best, providing numerous physical benefits. Sleep enables the heart to rest and facilitates the repair of cells and tissues, aiding recovery after physical exertion.
7. It helps prevent serious illnesses such as cancer and heart disease
Individuals who sleep less than 8 hours each night are likelier to say they have had health problems, including heart attack, asthma, and depression. These health problems raise the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. However, quality sleep helps reduce chronic inflammation, a known risk factor for various diseases. Prioritizing sufficient sleep is crucial for maintaining overall health and mitigating the risk of these serious illnesses.
Sleep provides our body with a vital opportunity to recover from daily stress. It aids in reducing inflammation, replenishing energy stores in cells, and promoting muscle repair.
As practicing physicians, we understand the limited availability of sleep during training and careers. We used to get 4-6 hours of sleep per night, which was the norm until we transitioned to creating passive income and slowing down our demanding schedules.
Despite feeling physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted, we didn’t initially recognize the connection between lack of sleep and our well-being. We experienced irritability and increased susceptibility to illness and could easily doze off within seconds.
Energy drinks became a daily necessity to keep up with our clinical obligations and limited family time in the evenings.
Now that we comprehend the scientific significance of sleep and its impact on our longevity and healthspan, we prioritize sleep.
1. Duration and Timing
Miranda aims for 8 or more hours of sleep per night, while Paul’s target is 7 hours. Ideally, we aim to be asleep between 9-10 pm and wake up by 5 am.
2. Wind Down & Bedtime
A crucial aspect of achieving a good night’s sleep is the “wind-down” period and the timing of sleep. Our goal is to initiate the wind-down process around 7 pm. We dim the lights in our surroundings, take evening showers, and reduce exposure to stimulating devices. Whenever possible, we activate “do not disturb” mode to minimize mental stimulation before sleep.
3. Minimizing Blue-Light Exposure
Blue light, present in the visible spectrum, suppresses melatonin production and hampers quick sleep onset. To address this, we dim the lights around 8 pm and set all our electronic devices to “night mode” after 7 pm, reducing their blue light emission.
4. Oura Ring – Sleep Monitoring
The Oura ring is a remarkable device that measures multiple sleep parameters. It provides daily scores for “Readiness” and “Sleep” and tracks various other measurements. Our objective is to observe ample REM sleep and deep sleep, as well as a significant decrease in heart rate throughout the night, indicative of restorative sleep. Understanding and measuring sleep performance are crucial for making improvements.
5. Avoiding Late-night Eating
Consuming a large meal close to bedtime can negatively affect sleep quality. We aim to have our last meal 2-4 hours before going to sleep, ideally finishing dinner by 6 pm.
6. Managing Caffeine Intake
Previously, we relied on caffeine out of necessity, but now we have significantly reduced its consumption. If caffeine is still needed, we recommend cutting it off after 2 pm. Caffeine has a half-life of up to 5 hours, meaning it takes that long for the amount of caffeine in the body to decrease by half. Having caffeine in your system when trying to sleep can disrupt your sleep cycle.
These are the compelling reasons we have made sleep a top priority in our lives, aiming to improve our longevity and overall health. We understand the challenges of achieving sufficient sleep, especially for full-time practicing physicians or busy professionals. We strongly advocate creating passive income to regain control over your time and reclaim a balanced and fulfilling life.