I’m writing this today after a week of little sleep. Life simply got crazy. It happens.
So, I am here to help you learn, but also as a big kick in the butt reminder to me to get to bed early tonight…
I used to say with pride, “I only need 5 hours of sleep a night.”
What a fool.
Study after study after study shows that we NEED 7-9 hours of sleep a night. The average American gets only 6.
Most people don’t realize that a lack of sleep actually accumulates night after night. If you only get 5 hours one night, you’ll need to make up for those lost hours the next night. And so on and so on…
I have a friend that is almost 51 and hasn’t gotten more than 5 hours of sleep a night for the past 29 years. The effects of this long term sleep deprivation show more and more every year. She is looking older than her age. She also has to work longer hours just to keep up with the same work load she did 10 years ago. This viscous cycle will only continue to where she will have a complete break down or a big health problem one day.
So, what are we doing to our brains when we don’t get enough sleep?
Your brain is like a computer. It needs to be rebooted every night to perform in an optimal state. If you cut short that reboot it is like starting your computer in “safe mode”. You are only working in a very limited capacity.
Just like your digestive system, your brain creates waste as it is working during the day. When you sleep, all of this waste is cleared out and so you can start fresh again the next day.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you are leaving a lot of that toxic waste behind. Now your thoughts and memories have to trudge their way through a muddy path just to get to where they need to go.
Now imagine years of waste build up. I’d go so far as to say that “Senior Moments” are nothing more than years of toxic build up in your brain slowing down your thought processes (I’m not talking about dementia or Alzheimer’s – those are different).
Speaking of remembering and memories, your brain also takes your short term memories and makes them long term memories as you sleep.
Some scientists believe that this is where our dreams come from – our brains are taking short term memories and creating pictures for our longer term memory to store. The order of the images get processed in random orders which is why our dreams seem weird to us, but almost always have a thread of relevance in our lives.
You see, skipping on a good night’s sleep not only creates a muddy path for our thoughts and memories to have to work their way though. We also can’t store all of our memories and become more and more forgetful (and stupider).
I’m not just encouraging you here or making suggestions. I want to grab your shoulders and shake you and INSIST that you prioritize sleep in your life. Go to bed earlier enough to get 7-9 hours a night.
How do you do this?
Plan for it. Just like you would with appointments. Calendar it if you have to, but think it through beforehand and make it happen.
I don’t care that your favorite show comes on at 10 pm. If you need to get up at 6, you will simply have to record it and watch it tomorrow night (before 10).
I also don’t care that you can’t fall asleep that early. I hear that excuse far too often…
“I’m just not tired at 10. I usually go to bed at midnight so I just lie there for 2 hours anyway.”
Yes, it may take a little while to get used to it so here’s what I’d suggest – go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you get to your optimal time to get your full sleep schedule in.
What happens if you just can’t get quality sleep? What happens if you toss and turn all night?
This is a function of an over active brain. Getting a good night’s sleep starts with having a bedtime routine.
Try having a cup of non-caffeinated tea while you are watching TV or working or reading before bed. Then, at the same time every night, brush your teeth, turn out the lights and take 10 deep breaths as you lie there. Maybe listen to some soft music or white noise in the background.
It may even take a guided mediation (you can find thousands of them on youtube) to get you into a relaxed state to fall asleep.
Better yet, take a MindBoost Night with your tea. It will help calm your brain down and get it in “fall asleep mode”.
Not only that, it will help your brain clear out those toxins overnight and lock in those long term memories.
It’s funny – I just reread what I wrote and it sounds frustrated and angry. I guess I really sleep deprived this week. Usually I’m much more upbeat 🙂
To a good night’s sleep.
Simple Smart Science
PS. Here’s where you can order MindBoost Night to have with your tea in just a few days…