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Why SLEEP is a priceless investment

The Festival of Sleep Day 2022 took place on 3 January so this month seems particularly appropriate to celebrate what is an ENORMOUSLY important part of Dynamic Ageing and long-term youthfulness, and of course of general health and wellbeing. Lack of sleep is at the heart of any number of conditions, both physical and mental, and we ignore our primeval, profound need for sleep at our peril – and in this day and age, when we are constantly exposed to powerful stressors such as poor diet, lack of movement, noise, light, pollution, crowds, whole days in front of computer screens, lack of relaxation – the benefits which sleep brings us are more vital than ever.

A potential client informed me recently that she sleeps as little as possible because she considers it “such a waste of time”. Needless to say, I was speechless, as my studies and research over the last few years have taught me beyond a shadow of a doubt that sleep - deep, restful, regular, quality sleep – is crucial to a life well lived, as well as to a long and dynamic life and youthfulness. In our 21st Century culture, getting by on as little sleep as possible has almost become a badge of honour, something to brag about and encourage, something to be proud of, almost a mark of distinction, as though dragging yourself through the day on four hours’ rest is a huge achievement - and those of us who honour the human body’s, and most particularly the human brain’s, need for rest and regeneration can be seen as lazy and unproductive.....

Without enough sleep, you create an uphill battle in so many different ways – and lack of it will sabotage your health and any health goals you might have. Sleep is in fact one of the three crucial pillars of good health, along with a nourishing, wholesome diet and plenty of movement. Physical and emotional wellbeing truly depend on sufficient sleep and yet we’re living in sleep-deprived times. Scientists even say we’re now getting an hour or two less sleep each night than we were 60 years ago. And the effect on our bodies is not good.

I will be writing in far more detail about sleep and its role in overall rejuvenation later in the year but for now, let me emphasise the following life-enhancing facts about quality sleep:-

1. The less you sleep, the more likely you are to put on weight

2. Sleep is essential for regenerating your cells

3. Healthy bone growth happens at night, when you are fast asleep

4. The brain cleanses and rebuilds itself during sleep

5. Getting sufficient sleep reduces your risk of many diseases

6. Sleep boosts the immune system

7. Sleep lowers inflammation

8. Quality sleep results in better mood, insight, social engagement and overall quality of life

9. People who sleep regularly are less likely to make bad financial decisions while sleep-deprived individuals tend to be biased towards inappropriate risks - take heed!

10. Sleep improves both long and short-term memory

The amount of sleep each person needs varies. Waking up feeling refreshed in the morning is a good indicator, and so is not needing an alarm clock in order to wake up. If the alarm wakes you from a state of deep sleep, you are not getting enough sleep. And if you don’t get enough sleep, you may not be able to concentrate properly, and you may become irritable or agitated. You may also have blurred vision, be clumsy, become disorientated or slow to respond, and have decreased motivation. And when it comes to food, if you’re tired and cranky, you are significantly less likely to make the best dietary choices. Furthermore, you may be surprised to learn that, in a computer-simulated driving test, those who had had just a few hours' sleep were more dangerous on the (virtual) road than the people who had had a few drinks! In fact, the majority of road accidents are directly caused by tiredness.

The purpose of sleep is to rest and recover, and to allow the body to repair itself – and this is particularly true of the brain, which cleanses and detoxifies itself during sleep, along with carrying out countless other critical processes like consolidating memory and learning. These maintenance and repair processes take 7 to 9 hours which means that adults need between 7 and 9 hours per night – regardless of what you may think you have trained yourself to simply get by with. It is simply non-negotiable.

So look at sleep as an invaluable investment in your long-term health!

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