Sleep Is The Foundation

For twenty years and more I have talked about fitness being of vital importance to our health. As a young trainer that was more or less all I talked about. Then came nutrition, then stress management and now sleep. Those are the four key areas of our lives that if we want to be in shape, be healthy, be productive and have a chance of living a long disease free life that we have to focus on.

Of those four areas, I know most about fitness, then nutrition, then stress management and now I have begun to study sleep. Shortly this blog is going to turn into somebody else’s work because I am going to write a part of the opening page of Professor Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep. I have read a lot of books and several of them have been life changing for me, this one however tops the lot. What’s so refreshing about the sleep research too is there isn’t a single person arguing against any of it. Nutrition and fitness are a minefield of contra arguments for and against studies because there is money to be made but who is going to argue with simply telling you to sleep? Well, perhaps caffeinated beverage companies and sleeping pill manufacturers! It will be difficult though.

Going forward it would be unprofessional of me not to mention this book to anybody who comes to see me for help because as the title of this blog says – Sleep is The Foundation.

The couple of paragraphs that follow are all backed by scientific evidence available in Professor Walker’s book.

“…..Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Inadequate sleep – even moderate reductions for just one week – disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classed as pre diabetic. Short sleep increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path towards cardiovascular disease, stroke and congestive heart failure…….sleep disruption further contributes to all major psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety and suicidality.

….Too little sleep swells concentrations of a hormone (ghrelin) that makes you feel hungry while suppressing a companion hormone (leptin) that otherwise signals food satisfaction. Despite being full, you still want to eat more…. Worse, should you attempt to diet but don’t get enough sleep while doing so, it is futile, since most of the weight you lose will come from lean muscle and not body fat.

Add the above health consequences up, and a proven link becomes easier to accept: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life span.”

Rather compelling stuff eh! Sleep is a non negotiable in my life and I feel great for it. This winter I’m finding it particularly easier simply by going to bed earlier and waking up a lot happier despite it being dark.

That is a very short taster into sleep deprivation but I will continue to talk about the perils of short sleep in further blogs. There are a multitude of outstanding facts from the research and I will leave you with one of them.

The day after the clocks go back and we gain an hour’s sleep there is a 24% decrease in heart attacks.
The day after the clocks go forward and we lose an hour’s sleep there is a 21% increase in heart attacks.

Have a read of the book or if you want to ease your way in then this is a great interview with Professor Walker by Dr Rhonda Patrick you can watch on YouTube.