Sleep, everyone needs it, and yet so many of us get much less than we should. The CDC reports that 30% of people sleep less than six hours per night! Sleep is where our bodies repair and our short-term memories are converted into long-term ones. It is where we dream, and our subconscious helps us sort through problems. It is an invaluable tool and unquestionably necessary. But our modern world does not do sleep the justice it deserves; we push sleep to the side. We wear our sleep deprivation as a badge of honor, a testament to our work effort.
This compromises our ability to work at a high level. When we are sleep deprived our brain function goes down, our bodies are weakened, we throw away the bottom of the pyramid for the sake of appearances. Because honestly, that is what it is, sleep and water are the basest of human needs. Excluding obvious oxygen, we wouldn’t last five minutes without oxygen. With water and sleep, humans can survive for months, once you take away one it compromises our abilities to think, to do anything. Starving isn’t comfortable, but it won’t kill you quickly. Sleep deprivation on the other hand will. Now most of us never get to the point of dying from sleep deprivation. Our bodies have contingencies in place to prevent that from happening. We start catching a bit of sleep when we close our eyes.
Now how well do you think our brain is functioning, how well can we operate when our minds are resorting to falling asleep every time we close our eyes. (Hint not great) Now let us look to the past, how did our ancestors sleep. They had a very interesting sleep schedule that changed depending on the individual. Surprise surprise humans are, and our bodies are optimized for different sleep cycles. Some of us get tired as soon as the sun goes down and rise with or before the sun. Some of us aren’t tired till midnight, it all depends on the person. There are also differences in how much sleep people need.
Me personally my minimum is 9 hours a night, I know it seems excessive, but I have found that that is what my body needs. Now a slightly more fringe thing I have encountered, when I am adequately rested, I will wake up in the middle of the night for around 15 minutes, this has been mentioned Here. My theory is that its an adaptation to allow us to get up and stoke the fire without hurting our sleep cycles. So our ancestors slept as much as they needed, now we don’t have that luxury a lot of the time. So what can we do?
First off operate under the assumption that you are sleep deprived, on a Saturday night de-stress entirely, take a bath, turn off all your alarms, make sure you’re not going to be disturbed and go to bed early. Then sleep, as much as your body wants, stay in bed and go back to sleep. When you get rid of your sleep debt, you will feel like a whole new person. Clearer, more grounded. Maybe once isn’t enough to catch you back up. Perhaps you will need to do this every weekend for a month, but it will never fix the problem. You need to go to the source, your bad sleep habits. You need to figure out how much sleep you need and then adapt your bedtime and wake up time to fit your particular lifestyle. For me, I go to bed at 8 o’clock because I get up at 530 in the morning. Maybe for you, you go to bed at midnight and sleep till 8. Whatever works for you.
Now onto improving sleep quality because even if you are getting enough hours, it may not be restful enough if you are being woken in the night. Keep your sleeping area pitch black, Don’t worry if you have to get up in the middle of the night you will be astounded at how good your night vision is. Speaking of getting up in the middle of the night, if you do so don’t turn on the lights, it will shock your body awake and make it harder to get back to sleep. Shut of screens an hour before you plan to sleep along with wearing one of these. You might also consider a pair of blue light blocking glasses, These or These. Make sure your bed is comfortable, etc., etc.
So much of this is personal preference and requires experimentation on your part. So go out and fix your pyramid. Life is yours; a strong foundation is necessary to get what you want out of it. So go and build it.
Wishing you luck on your journey -Emmit