Sleep While You Are Alive

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“Sleep is the greatest legal performance-enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting.”

“Humans beings are the only species that deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent reason.”

-Matthew Walker

The more we learn about sleep, the more we realize that it is one of the most vital things we do as humans. I recently listened to a Joe Rogan podcast with sleep expert Matthew Walker, professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California in Berkeley (author of “Why We Sleep” which you can check out here). I was blown away by the amount of awesome data and statistics that he presented. Dr. Walker estimates that 1 out of every 2 in the United States are not getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep. If you want to watch or listen to the full podcast, you can do that here.

Here are some incredible stats relating to athletic performance:

  • If you’re getting 6 hours of sleep or less, your time to physical exhaustion drops by up to 30%
  • Lactic acid builds up quicker the less you sleep
  • The ability of your lungs to expire CO2 and inhale oxygen decreases
  • The less sleep you have the lower your peak muscular strength, lower your vertical jump height, and lower your peak running speed
  • A 60% increase in the probability of injury comparing people who get 9 hours of sleep a night to those who get 5
  • Your stability muscles fail earlier when not getting enough sleep

Not enough to convince you to start sleeping more yet? Here are some more stats:

  • After 20 hours of being awake, you are as physically and cognitively impaired as you would be if you were legally drunk
  • Every 30 seconds, there is a car accident linked to lack of sleep, drowsy driving kills more people on the roads than alcohol or drugs combined
  • One study found that, with one week of 6 hours of sleep per night, 711 genes were distorted in their activity
    • Half of those genes experienced an increase in activity – these were genes related to the promotion of tumors, genes related to chronic inflammation, and genes associated with stress (and therefore cardiovascular disease)
    • Half of these genes were suppressed – many of these were genes related to immune response, so we become immune deficient with a lack of sleep
  • If you’re dieting, but not getting sufficient sleep, 70% of all the weight you lose will come from lean muscle, not fat – our body becomes resistant at giving up fat when it’s underslept
  • Men who sleep 5-6 hours a night will have a level of testosterone 6-10 years their senior
  • With 14 days straight of 6 hours sleep or less, your cognitive performance nosedives, and with no sign of leveling off
  • People sleeping 4-5 hours a night will on average eat 200-300 extra calories each day (70,000 extra calories each year which translates into 10-15 lbs. of body mass)
  • Insufficient sleep is the most significant lifestyle factor for determining whether or not you’ll develop Alzheimer’s Disease
  • One study sleep-deprived individuals for one night (to 4 hours of sleep) – they experienced a 70% reduction in critical anti cancer-fighting cells (natural killer cells)

Here are some debunks for some common sleep myths:

  • We can’t use naps to regain sleep we’ve lost
  • The shorter your sleep on average, the shorter your life
  • The number of people who can survive on 6 hours of sleep or less, rounded to a whole number, and expressed as a percentage of the population is 0
  • You don’t know you’re sleep deprived when you’re sleep deprived
  • Less sleep does not equal more productivity
  • Dr. Walker estimates that if you pull an all-nighter, and then are allowed to sleep as long as you want the next night, you’ll sleep longer but you’ll only get back 3-4 hours of that lost total 8

Why school’s should think strongly about pushing back start times:

  • One school shifted start times from 7:25am to 8:30am, average SAT scores rose 212 points
  • One study documented a school which shifted school start times from 7:35am to 8:55am – this resulted in 70% reduction in car crashes the following year

Stats from Podcast Notes

How much could healthcare costs be cut by having everyone sleep at minimum 8 hours per night? How much better of an athlete or a student could you be if you sleep 8 hours per night? Do you want to live a longer more productive life? I can’t answer these questions but you can. Make sleep a priority in your life and the dividends will be worth it. Sleep while you are alive, not dead.

-Dr. Brian Damhoff DC MS