Maybe so, but read on and see why sleep is the most important thing to do properly if you want to achieve well-being and success.
Well-being. It is about Being…Well. Life today is about Doing. Doing more. Doing faster. Doing continually. The challenge in this is that, with all this Doing, there is increasingly less time for Being; let alone Being Well or well-being.
Enough with the capitals though.
So what needs to be happen to unlock that sense of being well? What do you need to take into account to succeed in your goals?
As a coach well-being has increasingly become a core focus. Most of those I coach, when we come to the crux of it, have needed to make adjustments to some or other aspect(s) of their lives or their habits in order to achieve their goals. To succeed.
I know I have.
We are, after all, first people - human beings - before we are the jobs we do or the roles we fill or the dreams we pursue.
A number of facets or aspects of life have come up in these coaching sessions, but the most common are these:
Connecting with self, with others, with nature
Each entry in the list above could be suffixed with “…well”. After all, we all sleep, eat, think, breathe, etc. Not all of us, however, do it well. In fact, I would argue the majority of us do not know how NOT well we do them.
There is no new news in this list. Others have written reams on each.
But, let us take the first entry in the list, the hero of this little story, as an example.
I place it first in the list because it is, in my view, the most important of all of them. I have been trying to determine for a while if this is appropriate, but my own study of sleep (reading other people’s research as well as doing a bit of self bio hacking) has convinced me it deserves this prime position.
I believe sleep is the foundation of well-being upon which all successes are built.
Did you know that good, proper NREM and REM sleep (as part of a good 7-9 hours of sleep per night) can give you a 20-30% advantage in factual recall, learning and cognitive ability over someone who does not get this quality of sleep?
Did you know that someone trying to lose fat will fail if they are only getting 4-6 ours of sleep per night? They will lose weight, but this will be mostly lean muscle mass.
Did you know that this same, consistent level of sleep deprivation over a period of 6 weeks can lead to a blood test showing someone as being pre-diabetic? This proven in tests on healthy young adults with no prior history of diabetes at all.
Did you know that ADHD and repetitive sleep deprivation (either from not enough sleep on regular interruption to sleep) portray almost exactly the same symptoms; How many ADHD diagnoses might actually be sleep disorders?
Did you now that work place effectiveness and productivity has been measured to be about 25% lower in mildly sleep deprived people - 4-6 hours per night, as opposed the 7-9 hours we should be getting.
Did you know that capacity for physical activity and exercise, and the related performance, decreases by, you guessed it, approximately 20% in people who are mildly sleep deprived?
This mild lack of sleep, when perpetuated as a ‘normal’ amount of sleep, has also been scientifically linked to lower immune response, depression, anxiety, lack of self control (because the prefrontal cortex becomes less active), decreased ability to tell ‘friend from foe’ , lower fertility and, yes, increased reliance on stimulants and and pharmaceuticals in an attempt to wake up or sleep better
The research shows, interestingly, it is not just the duration of sleep that matters though. The type of sleep (NREM, REM) and the quality of that type of sleep is equally important as the quantity. Even more interesting is the role of dreaming in emotional development and levels of creativity and problem solving.
It is not an either or relationship though.
Best results come from the combination of sleep type, sleep duration, sleep quality and dreaming
With these interesting facts it is quite difficult to justify our current approach to sleep.
”I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” You won’t have wait as long as good sleepers will, it would seem. Just look at the logical conclusions from research on lack of sleep and its impact on the immune system, bodily functions and seeming relationship to cancer.
Or look at Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI). FFI is a rare disorder that gradually removes the ability to sleep…at all. It is untreatable and the fatal, as the name implies. All recorded patients to date have died within 9 months.
It is equally difficult for me to understand how we can attempt to pursue life changing goals if the foundation off which we build toward these goals is broken.
How can you expect to succeed in the new, demanding role at work if you “burn the candle at both ends”?
How does the GCS student expect to achieve the top mark if they “pull an all-nighter”?
How can we possibly expect to recover from illness, surgery or trauma with our immune system running at 50%?
How can we possibly expect to get to the top (whatever your top may be) if we do not start by sleeping well?
Make the time time sleep.
Sleep well…taking the necessary steps to do this… EXCEPT using alcohol, sleeping pills or any other sedative!!
Then… take on each day and own it to the best of your ability.
If you want a really good, one stop view of why we should prioritise sleep, read "Why We Sleep”, by Matthew Walker http://amzn.eu/8kO3WKd
If you need help to achieve a more balanced well lifestyle, contact Will here.
Will is a transformation consultant, certified coach and yoga instructor based in West Berkshire in the United Kingdom. He has a special interest in bringing well being and balance back into our lives and being; developing ease in living each day to our best.