EMAIL #133 - 22ND AUGUST 2021 - "WHAT I'VE LEARNT ABOUT SLEEP"
Two weeks into "Lockdown No 6" and it looks like things are about to get a whole lot tougher for everyone. The number of exposure sites just keeps growing and the number of active cases in the community mean that tougher lockdown restrictions are just around the corner and the predictions are that they will be the toughest restrictions ever. So, all we can do is to support each other, abide by the restrictions and ride it out together. Hopefully this Weekly Email helps in some small way??
Last week I dove into the unsettled waters of Mental Health, and I concluded that introductory email by proposing that for me decent mental health is all about self-maintenance. Over the last 10 years I have found that by far the biggest influence on my mental health is "Stress management", which is a daily challenge that takes up a considerable amount of my energy and my time. But I also know that managing stress is a huge personal motivator that helps me to stay disciplined and to do productive work every day.
The three influences that I feel have the biggest effect on managing stress and my mental health are sleep, exercise & diet and today I will concentrate on "What I've Learnt About Sleep"
"Happiness is waking up, looking at the alarm clock and finding that you still have two hours left to sleep."
Charles M Schulz
Sleep is a very complex phenomenon that is still a bit of a mystery, but to help define and explain "the biology of sleep", here is an extract from the publication Scientific America.
"The function of sleep has mystified scientists for thousands of years, but modern research is providing new clues about what it does for both the mind and body. Sleep serves to reenergize the body's cells, clear waste from the brain, and support learning and memory. It even plays vital roles in regulating mood, appetite, and libido."
"Many biological processes happen during sleep: The brain stores new information and gets rid of toxic waste. Nerve cells communicate and reorganize, which supports healthy brain function. The body repairs cells, restores energy, and releases molecules like hormones and proteins."
A recent study and scientific report called "Re-Awakening Australia" stated that 30% of Australian adults suffer from poor sleep (i.e., achieving less than 7 hours of sleep per night, frequently waking during the night for long periods or having difficulty getting to sleep). This report also calculated the economic cost of poor sleep as high as $31.5 billion per year in Australia due to lost productivity, workplace accidents and mental health issues. So, sleep problems are widespread and real in our society.
"Early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise." An oldie but a goodie thanks to Benjamin Franklin.
I have always been a "light sleeper" and I have had some problems getting a good amount of consistent healthy sleep over the last decade or so. Below, I would like to share some of my insights that I have learnt along the way.
- Sleep directly affects your happiness and contentment. How you feel when you lie down at night and just before you get up in the morning, tells you a lot about your general happiness and state of mind.
- The value of sleep increases dramatically as you get older, (hence my preoccupation).
- Your level of concentration during the day, your job performance and your productivity are directly linked to how well you sleep.
- A lack of sleep is the hardest part of having young children.
- Stress and anxiety are a double-edged sword. Good sleep greatly helps to manage stress + anxiety, but stress + anxiety is also the main cause of sleep problems.
- Sleep is one of the most valuable commodities a person can have, it is literally a superpower.
Next week I will unpack some of the factors that influence the quality of your sleep, and I will outline some tips and tricks that can help you get better sleep (with a few snippets of my experience thrown in).
Thanks for reading,
Stay safe and sleep well.