Sleep matters, it is SO important.

You know this deep down. You know that things aren’t so good when you don’t get to sleep well regularly. Without enough sleep, you create an uphill battle in so many different ways.

It’s an essential and natural part of life.

And yet we seem to think it’s OK – or admirable in fact – to scrape by with as little of the stuff as possible. Almost as though it were a competition.

Sleep impacts your ability to lose weight, affects how fast you age, can prevent cancer, and – given we are speaking about sleep in a business context – sleep dictates whether or not you can function at a high level.

The purpose of sleep is this:

To rest and recover, and to allow the body to repair itself naturally.

These maintenance and repair processes take between 7 and 9 hours. That’s why adults need about 8 hours per night – regardless of what you may have trained yourself to get by with.

Since we’re all about supporting your body’s detoxification processes, you’ll want to know that sleep helps detox your brain.

One of the main ways scientists have established the positive benefits of sleep is by looking at what happens when people don’t get enough. The effects of sleep deprivation are far-reaching.  

This video explains the importance of sleep and how it affects our health.

Many cytokines (inflammatory markers) and hormones are affected by sleep and also the lack of it. For example, one of the primary markers of inflammation – called C-reactive Protein or CRP – is raised by lack of sleep and remains high for a while even after your sleep is back on track. The integrity of the blood-brain barrier (a membrane that keeps harmful toxins and other unwanted chemicals from crossing from the blood into your brain) is affected when sleep is poor. Brain permeability is a factor in many cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions. 

Research shows that one of the key mechanisms for removing potentially harmful waste products from the brain is ten times more active during sleep. One recently discovered system for ditching this toxic waste from the brain is called the ‘glymphatic system’ (it’s managed by the glial cells in the brain). It clears away waste products thought to contribute to ‘dirty brain’ diseases like Alzheimer’s.

So! Your health depends on getting a good night’s sleep.

From a practical perspective, it’s worth starting to note how much you are actually sleeping each night. If you have a smartwatch like an Apple Watch, Garmin or Fitbit, you can track this.

Once you know how much you’re sleeping, you might want to choose to take action, but you’ll need to work on this as a project.

Because sleep is free and – in theory – you could get more at any time, we often don’t prioritise it. My suggestion for the rest of this programme is that you make sleep a priority. 

Here’s how:

Instead of thinking of it as an obstacle and something you have to do, reposition it as something you choose to do.

Dim the lights in the evening, whether that means using a dimmer switch or turning on side lights instead of your ceiling light.

Have a no-screens policy 90 minutes before going to bed. The blue light can interfere with the quality of your sleep. It might also be that you’re still scrolling on social media late into the night, and this activates dopamine, which is an ‘awake’ hormone. It’s also the hormone involved in the chase, the ‘what’s coming next?’ which often leads to hanging around on YouTube or social media far longer than you intended.

Unless your room is very dark, invest in a silk eye mask. You’ll find these very easily online as well as in department stores. Something like this should do the trick –