Learn, Share, Grow - Importance of Sleep: Part 1

learn share grow

August 29, 2022

Below is a lesson from TED on the effect of sleep on your health and well-being, as well as our key learnings.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.


Sleep is your Superpower

Matt Walker



 Watch the video here.

Key Learnings:

  • Men who routinely sleep just four to five hours a nightwill have a level of testosterone which is that of someone 10 years their senior. So a lack of sleep will age a man by a decade in terms of that critical aspect of wellness. We see equivalent impairments in female reproductive health caused by a lack of sleep.
  • You need sleep after learning to essentially hit the save button on those new memories so that you don't forget. You also need sleep before learning to prepare your brain, almost like a dry sponge ready to initially soak up new information. Without sleep, the memory circuits of the brain essentially become waterlogged and you can't absorb new memories.
  • There are big, powerful brainwaves that happen during the very deepest stages of sleep that have riding on top of them these spectacular bursts of electrical activity that we call sleep spindles. It's the combined quality of these deep-sleep brainwaves that acts like a file-transfer mechanism at night, shifting memories from a short-term vulnerable reservoir to a more permanent long-term storage site within the brain. 
  • As we get older, our learning and memory abilities begin to fade and decline. A physiological signature of aging is that your sleep gets worse, especially that deep quality of sleep. The disruption of deep sleep is an underappreciated factor that is contributing to cognitive decline or memory decline in aging, and most recently we've discovered, in Alzheimer's disease as well.
  • Sleep loss and your cardiovascular system - all it takes is one hour. Daylight saving time - in the spring, when we lose one hour of sleep, we see a subsequent 24-percent increase in heart attacks that following day. In the autumn, when we gain an hour of sleep, we see a 21-percent reduction in heart attacks. You see exactly the same profile for car crashes, road traffic accidents, even suicide rates.
  • Sleep and the immune system - your body has natural killer cells, that are very good at identifying dangerous, unwanted elements and eliminating them, such as a cancerous mass. So what you wish for is a virile set of these natural killer cells at all times, and that's what you don't have if you're not sleeping enough.
  • When a person is sleep deprived to 4 hours in a single night, there is a 70-percent drop in natural killer cell activity.
  • The link between a lack of sleep and cancer is now so strong that the World Health Organization has classified any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen, because of a disruption of your sleep-wake rhythms.
  • The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. Short sleep predicts all-cause mortality.
  • A lack of sleep will even erode the very fabric of biological life itself, your DNA genetic code. A lack of sleep causes a sizable and significant number of genes to become distorted in their activity, as well as the genes associated with promotion of tumors, long-term chronic inflammation within the body, and  stress, and, as a consequence, cardiovascular disease having an increase in activity and the genes associated with the immune system having decreased.
  • Tips for good sleep:
    • Avoiding the damaging and harmful impact of alcohol and caffeine on sleep
    • If you're struggling with sleep at night, avoiding naps during the day
    • Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time, no matter whether it's the weekday or the weekend. Regularity will anchor your sleep and improve the quantity and the quality of that sleep.
    • Keep it cool.Your body needs to drop its core temperature by about two to three degrees Fahrenheit to initiate sleep and then to stay asleep. Aim for a bedroom temperature of around 65 degrees.
  • Sleep, unfortunately, is not an optional lifestyle luxury. Sleep is a nonnegotiable biological necessity. It is your life-support system, and it is Mother Nature's best effort yet at immortality.
  • The decimation of sleep throughout industrialized nations is having a catastrophic impact on our health, our wellness, even the safety and the education of our children.

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