Why Type-A people might want to sleep more: a summary of Why We Sleep

Basic Sleep Patterns

My sleep pattern on July 11, 2019 (as recorded by Fitbit)
  1. Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM Sleep): This typically becomes more prominent in the early hours of the morning and is reflected in light blue color in the image above
  2. Light Sleep (Stage 1/2 Non-REM Sleep): This is important for physical recovery and for rest. It is represented in the mid-hue blue color in the image above
  3. Deep Sleep (Stage 3/4 Non-REM Sleep): This is important for memory, physical replenishment, and hormonal regulation

Sleep as a catalyst for learning

  1. Deep sleep helps remove unnecessary neural connections. REM sleep strengthens useful neural connections. If you’re trying to learn and internalize new concepts, getting 7+ hours of good quality sleep is becomes a huge advantage
  2. Deep sleep helps transfer and make safe newly learned information into long-term storage sites of the brain. REM sleep takes these freshly minted memories and begins colliding them with the entire back catalog of your life’s autobiography. I.e, REM sleep tends to be strongly linked to creativity
  3. Practice, with sleep, makes perfect. Offline learning (letting your brain learn while you asleep after practicing through the day) tends to be more effective than online learning (simply powering through the task without sleep)
  4. REM sleep fuels creativity. Deep sleep helps transfer and make safe newly learned information into long-term storage sites of the brain. But REM sleep takes these freshly minted memories and begins colliding them with the entire back catalog of your life’s autobiography
  • The working memory span is affected by sleep deprivation. When sleep deprived (42 hours of sleep deprivation) participants in a study were asked to remember a nonsense word and locate it among a number of similar words, the length of time they could hold it in their working memory decreased by 38% compared to rested individuals
  • When students were given tests to learn the assignment of a 100 random names to random faces, those who had an afternoon nap outperformed those without an afternoon nap by 20%
  • For athletes, sleep is important both before and after the game. A number of NBA players that voluntarily tracked their sleep saw a double digit percentage improvement in their rebounds, assists, points, and distance run (adjusted for time on court) when they slept atleast 7 hours before the game compared to days when they slept for less than 7 hours

Sleep deprivation and emotional reactivity

  1. The amygdala (emotional centre of the brain) and the striatum (the hedonic centre of the brain associated with impulsivity and reward) becomes hyperactive with less sleep. They get decoupled from the rational control of the pre-frontal cortex
  2. REM Sleep increases our ability to recognise and successfully navigate the kaleidoscope of socioemotional signals that are abundant in our culture — such as overt/covert facial expressions, major and minor bodily gestures, and mass group behaviour
  3. Lack of sleep is as a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzheimer’s is associated with the buildup of a toxic protein called beta-amyloid. These are flushed out while sleep because glial cells shrink by up to 60% to let cerebrospinal fluid to its work and flush out the toxic protein. But without deep NREM sleep, this doesn’t happen effectively

Impact of sleep on longevity

  1. Adults 45 years or older who sleep fewer than 6 hours a night are 200 percent more likely to have a heart-attack or stroke in their lifetime, compared to those who are sleeping 8 hours a night
  2. When adults with no existing signs of diabetes or issues with blood sugar were limited to sleeping 4 hours a day for just 6 nights, they were 40% less effective at absorbing a standard dose of glucose (compared to when they were fully rested)
  3. Sleep has a significant impact on your immune system. In a study where individuals where exposed to the common flu virus, half the individuals sleeping an average of 5 hours an hour the week before were infected. However, only 18% of those with 8 hours of sleep the week before were infected

Takeaways and tips for better sleep

Disagree and/or have counterclaims? Let me know!

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Founder at Loki.ai

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Rishabh Srivastava

Rishabh Srivastava

Founder at Loki.ai

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