Why Do We Need Sleep?
The Health Benefits of Sleep
“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” ― Matthew Walker
Food For Thought
Why Do We Need Sleep?
Sleep is one of the most basic processes humans perform. Like eating or fitness, it is vital to our health. But unlike maintaining a balanced diet or getting in a good workout, we don’t tend to put a major emphasis on sticking to a consistent sleep schedule.
That’s why this week we will be breaking down the myths and truths about sleep. The next five days, we are focusing on all things sleep.
Because it’s something that impacts all of us. Two-thirds of adults fail at getting those eight recommended hours of precious, rejuvenating rest. And missing out on sleep is not something to take lightly. Consistently sleeping less than 6–7 hours a night diminishes your immune system, which can more than double your risk for cancer.
Sleep influences our health, happiness, weight, productivity, efficiency, and creativity. There’s a right and a wrong way to get the sleep you need, but first…
What is sleep? And why do we do it?
From an evolutionary perspective, sleep seems incredibly counterproductive. Every night, we lapse into a period of several hours where we are seemingly comatose. It’s the perfect opportunity for a predator to strike, and a massive waste of time that could be spent gathering, hunting, building, learning… or literally anything else. As sleep scientist Dr. Allan Rechtscaffen puts it:
“If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process has ever made.”
Until the 1950s, sleep was thought to be a dormant state. Even scientists didn’t fully understand it. Today, the American Sleep Association calls sleep “a dynamic activity” where we “pass through five phases of sleep: stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.” (We’ll talk more about these stages later on in the week.)
Basically — Dr. Rechtschaffen can relax because it turns out that sleep is extremelyvital.
There’s a reason why every animal species needs sleep. And it’s because the benefits far, far outweigh the apparent disadvantages.
According to Matthew Walker — whose book, Why We Sleep, we will be using as a reference throughout the week:
“There does not seem to be one major organ within the body or process within the brain, that isn’t optimally enhanced by sleep (and detrimentally impaired when we don’t get enough).”
There’s no one reason we sleep — there’s a whole bunch. Sleep:
- replenishes the immune system, which helps fight malignancy, infection, and sickness.
- helps maintain a balanced metabolic state.
- regulates weight and helps control dietary decisions.
- lowers blood pressure and keeps your cardiovascular system in healthy condition.
- lowers your risk for diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
- increases lifespan and prevents aging.
Good sleep is critical to keeping your mind refreshed and body healthy. Stay tuned this week for a deep dive into how sleep works, tips on how to get good sleep, interviews with sleep experts, and a discussion on the world of dreams. 😴 😴
Why Sleep Is The #1 Health Hack
“Functioning is very different than thriving. You can still function on a small amount of sleep, but you don’t know what’s happening in your body because of that lack of sleep.”
In this episode, Chad and Stephanie lay out the reasons why you need more restful nights and how to overcome the haters who try to dissuade and impede your sleep.
🎧 Listen to the Episode. 🎧
Night Owl vs Early Bird
The working world is built for early birds, and people who aren’t hitting the ground running before 6 am are often labeled as “lazy” or “irresponsible”.
Tired at the meeting, Jeff? Guess you should have gone to bed earlier.
But is being an early bird or night owl really as simple as “choosing” when to hit the sack?
According to Frederick Brown, a professor of psychology at Penn State:
“People span the range of those who are very early risers to very late setters, and this is genetically determined… If you’re a morning-type person, you can’t become an evening type, and vice versa.”
And other sleep studies have made similar observations. (Read: Night Owls vs. Early Birds: 9 Science-Backed Differences)
This begs the question: How can we change our society — work schedules, school schedules, and everything in between — to accommodate the peak productivity hours of everyone? 🤔
“Do you want your employees to be more productive — and also happier and healthier? Of course you do. It turns out one simple change to your company’s workday is a surprisingly powerful way to make that happen: Schedule people’s work times to match their own chronotypes — that is, their tendency to be awake and energized at different times of the day.” — Inc
Schools Start Too Early
“During puberty, adolescents become sleepy later at night and need to sleep later in the morning as a result in shifts in biological rhythms. These biological changes are often combined with poor sleep habits (including irregular bedtimes and the presence of electronics in the bedroom). During the school week, school start times are the main reason students wake up when they do. The combination of late bedtimes and early school start times results in most adolescents not getting enough sleep.”
This Will Get You Out Of Bed
Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning? Then you might want to check out the Alarmy app.
It forces you awake by not shutting off until you do the task it assigns. Tasks include doing several math problems, scanning barcodes, taking a photo of an object, or even having to physically shake the phone for a preset amount of time.
We’ve found it to be the most effective way to consistently get us up on time every morning. ⏰⏰
Sign Off 👋
Welcome back for another week of newsletters from the Mission! 🤗
What are some of your questions about sleep that you’d like us to answer this week? Tweet them at us @TheMissionHQ!
See you tomorrow!
(BTW — We’ve got a new season of The Story dropping May 1st and you won’t believe who is narrating it! 👉 Watch the trailer.)
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