Sleep as a superpower

Sleep as a superpower

Many of us believe we “should” get more sleep, and yet somehow it ends up further down the priority list.

The latest research from the Resilience Institute of over 100,000 people clearly shows that Sleep Quality is the most important factor differentiating those with high resilience from those with low resilience.

Over the last two years, sleep quality has become a defining factor for resilience, and experts promote sleep as the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health every day.

Our work performance is directly impacted by the quality of our sleep, including the ability to adequately respond to rapidly changing work demands and stress-inducing environments, self-regulation, decision-making and a variety of performance
measures.

The cost of losing sleep is staggering – sleep expert Matthew Walker reports that sleep disruption costs on the order of USD $1,400 per person (about $2400 NZD)  per year.

So why is it that when we look at wellbeing, many of us turn our attention first to exercise and nutrition, and undervalue the importance of sleep as a critical wellbeing factor?

 

The culprits

There are a number of culprits in causing sleep to become a ‘blind spot’ in our society –

  1. The prevailing belief that sleep = lazy | lost productivity
  2. The evening is a frenzy of alcohol, food, music, light (technology) and entertainment.
  3. The online world surrounds us with stimulation from multiple devices 24 hours, 7 days
  4. Sleep deficit is neither visible nor explicitly experienced.

How serious is sleep deprivation?

Short-term sleep disruption has immediate effects on our daily performance. Long-term disruption can be fatal. Yes, seriously.

We also have an epidemic of “bedtime curtailment” where many of us are permanently jet lagged. We are going to bed too late, and stimulated by screens, pressure and noise.   Yet when we disturb the natural timing of sleep we create profound and lasting effects. Imagine the impact on productivity, learning, relationships, substance abuse, road accidents and violence.  Even two nights of going to bed late can increase ghrelin (makes us hungry) by 28% and reduce leptin (feeling full) by 18%. With a 70% disruption of appetite, you eat more the next day, crave sugar, and lose your ability to regulate sugar. Over 40 long-term studies show that short sleep is associated with weight gain and diabetes.

 

How much sleep do I need?

Experts believe we need between 7 and 8 hours of quality sleep each night, and in reality, most people are sleeping an hour less than they really need.

If you’re feeling tired, go to bed earlier and avoid sleeping in (which disrupts your body rhythms and causes jet lag) or enjoy a 20 minute power nap after lunch.

 

How can I get better quality sleep?

  • get outside every day in direct daylight for at least 15 minutes
  • exercise every day – even a brisk walk makes a difference
  • turn off your devices about 90 minutes before bedtime and choose restful activities or quality time with your family
  • enjoy a warm bath or shower about 30 minutes before bed
  • calm the mind with journaling or reading
  • keep your bedroom for intimacy, resting and sleeping – not work!
  • make sure your bedroom is cool (about 18 degrees), dark and quiet

 

The Bottom Line:

Prioritise your sleep and gain the benefits of performance, self control, concentration, elevated mood, optimised immune system, focused attention and reduced anxiety.

Would you like a free copy of the 2022 Global Resilience Report ?   Contact me and I’ll email you the 38 page pdf – it’s full of fascinating insights!

Carley Nicholson
[email protected]