For most of my adult life I’ve been able to go several days on 4-5 hours of sleep before eventually crashing on the weekend. But now that I’m approaching my 40s I find lack of sleep has a significant impact on my ability to function and think clearly during the day.
I decided I needed to do something after one mid-day meeting at work where I was completely out of it and couldn’t keep up with the conversation. I recall feeling like I was in a cloud and having trouble keeping track of the conversation… it was that bad. Embarrassing really.
That night I started reading about the importance of sleep and learned some amazing things.
We Have A Sleep Switch…
Throughout the waking day, human beings build up a stronger and stronger drive for sleep. When the homeostatic pressure to sleep becomes high enough, a couple thousand neurons in the brain’s “sleep switch” ignite, as discovered by Dr. Clif Saper at Harvard Medical School. Once that happens, sleep seizes the brain like a pilot grabbing the controls
How Much Sleep Do We Need
This can depend on many factors, such as age and gender, but it is generally accepted that the average healthy adult should get between 7 – 9 hours sleep each night. Typically your sleep needs will vary depending on the stage of life you are currently in. Interestingly, while too little sleep is bad for you, so is too much sleep.
We Accumulate Sleep Debt
Sleep debt is the accumulated amount of sleep loss from insufficient sleep, regardless of cause. And unfortunately, this debt is not easy to pay back. Simply sleeping longer on a particular day will not do the trick. Also long term sleep debt is not forgiven, but instead can lead long term health problems such as heart disease, obesity, ADD among many others.
Sleep is an essential part of our lives, probably only behind our need for air and water. Yet we treat it with very little respect.
I’m determined to get my sleeping pattern on track which is why I started a 5 day sleep challenge to get at least 7 hrs per night.