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Focus on Sleep

Did you sleep well last night? It's often the conversation you have with someone in the morning especially when you have had guests staying over. I ask you this question because sleep matters. It’s not a throwaway conversation starter, I am asking you from a position of deep concern for your wellbeing. Are you getting enough sleep? Another serious question with potentially serious consequences. Eight hours, one third of your day, is the World Health Organisation’s recommendation for the necessary amount of sleep and yet this advice is often being ignored with many people claiming that they can function on much less or that they will catch up on lost sleep later. It’s a complete myth that you can catch up on lost sleep. Unfortunately sleep doesn’t work like that. According to English scientist, author and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, Matthew Walker, “the number of people that appear to be able to survive on six hours of sleep or less, without showing any objective impairment to their mind or body, rounded to a whole number and expressed as a per cent of the population is… zero. ” That’s a shocking statement to comprehend. Walker cites that in developed nations, “every disease that is killing us has causal and significant links to a lack of sleep.” Lack of sleep in life has now been linked to low concentration levels, mood changes, lowered levels of testosterone in men, memory and immune system problems, a shortened life span and dementia. Just look at Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan who were famously well known for apparently being able to function on as little as four hours of sleep who yet both succumbed to Alzheimer’s. "Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain," Matthew Walker says. "Many people walk through their lives in an under-slept state, not realizing it." In my fifth week of my Neuroscience Professional Development Programme, Dr Lynda Shaw focused on brain health. Sleep is fundamental because if you don’t get enough sleep all the other elements that contribute towards brain health such as nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, purpose, fun and water will barely matter. As with most things in life, it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality that counts and this maxim applies to sleep. What are the benefits of sleep? For the brain it is essential for consolidation of learning, development and memories. Sleep facilitates flushing out of toxins accumulated during the day. Sleep helps regulate your body weight, enhances athletic performance, improves your productivity, memory and concentration levels and improves your immune system therefore reducing the risk of illness. Sleep is vital yet do you make sleep a priority in your life? There’s no point burning the candle at both ends because all that will happen is you will burn yourself out! Life is short enough so please don’t make it any shorter. Staying awake longer each day is detrimental to living a longer life. Sleep for one third, keep moving for two thirds! Live longer! Focus on Sleep! “We are such stuff As dreams are made on; And our little life is rounded with a sleep.” William Shakespeare

ACTION POINT “The shorter you sleep, the shorter your life.” Matthew Walker Focus on Sleep! Start sleeping more and noticing the impact it has on your health, your productivity, your brain and your body. Amy

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS* Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker Your Brain is Boss by Dr Lynda Shaw *As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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