I am not sure about you, but I must admit that I did not take it seriously when my dad once said that I should also remember to sleep to keep up with creativity, energy and to remain healthy. I ignored the advice of my father as I could not possibly consider wasting my time with sleep. I was CEO of a software company and I was working on my doctorate so there was no time for me to think about sleep. How silly of me.
My daily rhythm was as follows: I got up in the morning around 07.00 AM, I left to the office a bit before 08.00 AM, I kept working until 06.00 PM each day and then a small break in Starbucks to “recalibrate” my brain to work on the dissertation. I worked in the empty office until 01.00 AM and then drove back home and spent time watching CNN Larry King show to cool off my racing brain. I guess my regular nights were 5 hours. I kept this rhythm day after day. I guess I should have known better, but my style has always been 0 or 100, nothing in between. I think I have been able to change that a bit when getting a bit more “mature”.
Why We Sleep – Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
I was shocked when I got my hands on the book “Why We Sleep – Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker I was shocked by the findings that his research has shown. Bill Gates recently reviewed the same book in his GatesNotes blog that he too used to “pull” all-nighters when delivering a piece of software and that he felt that sleeping was for lazy people. Gates refers to Dr. Thomas Roth of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit that “the number of people who can survive on five hours of sleep or less without impairment, and rounded to a whole number is zero.”. Let’s reflect on that statement. How many times have you heard somebody boasting that he/she does not need more than 5 hours of nightly sleep? I have heard that countless times and I also know people that have eventually ended either in burnout state or got some other illness due to the body breaking down.
What impact will sleep have on us?
According to Dr. Walker sleep produces neurochemical baths that improve our brains in various ways. Furthermore, sleep “restocks the armory of our immune system, helping fight malignancy, preventing infection, and warding off all manner of sickness.”
I have to say that the book really opens one’s eyes why it is important to get enough sleep. Walker spent four years working on the book in which is asserts that sleep deprivation is linked to numerous fatal diseases, including dementia. According to the book, routinely sleep less than 6 or 7 hours a night increases your risk of cancer by 50%.
This is not the only book that is about the importance of sleep. Arianna Huffington wrote the book “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time” where she writes about the impact of sleep. The Amazon.com website summarizes her book in the following way:
“In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream. She takes on the sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power.”
If you want to learn about the impact of having enough sleep, you should check out both of these books and then make a decision whether you still think that you are one of those that only need 5 hours of sleep each night.