“Tired minds don’t plan well. Sleep first, plan later.” — Walter Reisch
Every one of us has experience trudging through the foggy haze that is sleep deprivation.
Between excessive screen time into the wee hours of the night, expectations to be accessible 24/7 by work, family, and friends, and a growing narrative that “sleep is for the weak,” we are progressively becoming a sleep-deprived society.
It’s unsurprising then that the CDC has declared insufficient sleep a ‘public health problem.’ According to Dr. Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep:
“The physical and mental impairments caused by one night of bad sleep dwarf those caused by an equivalent absence of food or exercise. It is difficult to imagine any other state — natural or medically induced — that affords a more powerful redressing of physical or mental health at every level of analysis.”
When you think about the effects of sleep in your own life, it’s easy to see this as the truth. But even with science, psychology, and personal experience pointing us all to the same conclusion, we still don’t take sleep deprivation seriously.
The mantra continues:
Sleep is for the weak.
So how do you really know if you are sleep deprived (and that this grogginess isn’t just part of your personality)? Outside of an actual clinical study, Walker suggests you ask yourself these two questions:
1) After waking up in the morning, could you fall back asleep around 10 or 11 am?
2) Can you function optimally without caffeine before noon?
If you answer ‘yes’ to the first question or ‘no’ to the second, then you are likely not getting sufficient or quality sleep.
There are two factors that control your sleep pattern: your circadian rhythm and a chemical called adenosine. Both are independent of one another and influence when you feel tired.
Your circadian rhythm is your body’s natural tendency to feel awake or tired at certain parts of the day. Everybody’s rhythm is different and the length of the rhythm varies for everyone — usually about a day, give or take a few hours.
Adenosine is a chemical that starts to build up in your body the moment you wake up and doesn’t dissipate until the moment you go to sleep. As it builds up, it creates a ‘sleep pressure’ that gradually makes you feel more tired. If you don’t sleep long enough, not all of the adenosine goes away, creating an outstanding balance the next morning. After several nights of bad sleep, this outstanding balance starts to add up.
(More on the science of sleep here.)
Why is sleep deprivation so bad? Outside of the health effects we shared yesterday, it’s killing your creativity, productivity, and ability to perform tasks efficiently.
According to Optisom, there is a $60 billion estimated loss by US companies due to lower productivity caused by poor sleep. Employees experiencing insomnia are also 10x more likely to feel anxious or depressed — not optimum mindsets for innovative productivity.
But it’s not just the workplace or your health that suffers — your safety is also at risk considering that driving while drowsy is the equivalent to driving while drunk.
From our youth onward, school, work, and personal obligations have conditioned us to ignore our body’s natural sleep patterns. As we get older and have more control over our sleep schedule, it’s hard to shake what we’ve been conditioned to believe about sleep — that it’s a luxury many of us can’t afford.
If we have any hope to create happier home, work, and social lives, then we must flip the narrative and realize that good sleep is a habit we can’t afford not to make.
all credit goes to mission.org