For years people have known that a lack of sleep leads to problems in cognition. This past week I’ve been pretty much out of it due to a lack of sleep working on projects. I can remember back in my LAPD days when I worked overnights. Boy, did I pay for it.
Now, according to a new study led by Dr. Sigrid Veasey of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the Perelman School of Medicine along with colleagues from Peking University, they discovered that brain cells can be killed off due to extended periods of wakefulness. While this was done with mice, it certainly can be applied to humans. We see many that go extended hours without any sleep suffer from a drop in performance. Their thinking patterns certainly are not as effective as they should be. In may case, it certainly was true. Heck, I didn’t even want to do the work that I suffered through to do.
It seems that we’ve gotten caught up in a society where less sleep is praised as a sign of success. So what do we do? We work day and night. Back in the 90′s I even promoted this as well. I would even recite a poem by Berton Braley where giving up your sleep was a key to success. So I did back then.
This new research and the ones that came out last year on sleep is showing more and more how critical it is to get plenty of high quality sleep. Not only does it harm your brain, but it can also lead to increases in obesity, Alzheimer’s and other preventable diseases. Here are some suggestions on sleep that I believe you should heed…
- Don’t burn the midnight oil. Instead, get to sleep earlier in the evening (and I should heed this as well).
- Focus on getting 7-9 hours of high, quality REM sleep.
- Make sure to create an environment conducive to sleep. That includes one that is cool, dark and quiet.
- Turn off your smart devices, including your cell phone.
- Release any stressors, negative thoughts and worries prior to going to sleep. In fact, don’t watch the news or anything else negative beforehand.
- Get plenty of exercise during the day. This will help you sleep much better at night.
- Get on a healthy diet that includes plenty of quality vegetables.
- Take a “power nap” during the day if needed.
Make these suggestions a part of your everyday life. Sleep is one of the major keys to a healthy and fit life. That is one of the reasons I’ve included it as the 4th Pillar in my forthcoming book. Now, get to bed at the right time!