GET IT I FEATURE
Think you don’t need eight hours sleep each night? Science says, ‘think again’. Sarah Blinco highlights fresh new eye-opening facts
here’s a book I picked up during the year called Why We Sleep. Quite frankly, it’s a terrifying read, packed with health warnings that are the stuff of nightmares. But I was hooked (despite all the science, my brain is not wired that way). I’d thoroughly encourage you to have a look too, and focus on getting a better night’s rest, every evening. In it, the book’s author and neuroscientist Matthew Walker, shares urgent and compelling evidence gathered from five years study dedicated to everything that is sleep. It will make even the most devout night owls among you, reconsider committing the recommended eight hours to your bed. Rare is the person who does not worry about their sleep in this age of such blurred lines between work and rest, which is how I got drawn into Walker’s work in the first
place. I’ve struggled with sleep over the past few years. I’ve suffered the effects of ongoing insomnia,‘light sleeping’ and frustrating tossing and turning. Any manner of noise would wake me and keep me awake. Falling asleep has been a challenge, which leads to anxiety about not being able to get to sleep, and that then carries on all day. In the mornings, coffee was my friend, until it stopped working. Sometimes wine would help me fall asleep (great!), until it woke me up (not great), and I’d try again the next evening (bad). I could feel the spiralling effects of one poor night’s sleep after another in my world each day, making it difficult to focus, and deal with life’s challenges. While the bags under my eyes and obvious low immunity did greatly concern me, little did I know this is just a fraction of what I — we — should be worried about.
It’s quite easy to guess how sleep might benefit us, and science backs all of this too: • Look prettier, age slower: sleep • Be wittier: sleep • Feel productive and happier: sleep • Better/faster/stronger at the gym, or playing sport: sleep • Make smarter decisions: sleep But experts are focussed on comparably larger problems associated with today’s ‘worldwide sleep loss epidemic’. Evidence strongly supports claims that getting too little sleep across the adult lifespan significantly raises the risk of developing poor mental health, cancer (bowel, prostate and breast), Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The science behind each risk differs, and is complex, but the results are in. No more badges of honour for ‘being tough’ and ‘surviving’ on just a few hours’ sleep. This is serious.