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May 13, 2019

Below is a lesson from TED Talks on why sleep is vital to our health and well-being, as well as our key learning.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.


Sleep Is Your Superpower

By Matt Walker


Key Learnings:

  • Lack of sleep will age a man by a decade in terms of that critical aspect of wellness. Female equivalent impairments in reproductive health is caused by lack of sleep.
  • Is that you need sleep after learning to essentially hit the save button on those new memories so that you don’t forget.
  • You also need sleep before learning to actually prepare your brain, almost like a dry sponge ready to initially soak up new information.
  • A physiological signature of aging is that your sleep gets worse, especially that deep quality of sleep that produce big, powerful brainwaves that have riding on top of them these spectacular bursts of electrical activity that we call sleep spindles, that shift short-term memories to a more permanent long-term storage site within the brain.
  • It suggests that the disruption of deep sleep is an underappreciated factor that is contributing to cognitive decline or memory decline in aging, and in Alzheimer’s disease as well.
  • Sleep loss and your cardiovascular system — daylight saving time. Now, in the spring, when we lose one hour of sleep, we see a subsequent 24-percent increase in heart attacks that following day. In the autumn, when we gain an hour of sleep, we see a 21-percent reduction in heart attacks.
  • Sleep loss and your immune system — natural killer cells of the immune system identifies dangerous, unwanted elements and eliminates them. Lack of sleep does not allow for the strong activity of these natural killer cells. Restricting your sleep to four hours for one single night reduces natural killer cell activity by 70%. 
  • There’s a significant links between short sleep duration and your risk for the development of numerous forms of cancer. 
  • The World Health Organization has classified any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen, because of a disruption of your sleep-wake rhythms. 
  • The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.
  • Lack of sleep will even erode the very fabric of biological life itself, your DNA genetic code.
  • Lack of sleep distorted gene activity associated with your immune system. Genes with an increase in activity caused by lack of sleep are associated with the promotion of tumors, long-term chronic inflammation within the body, stress, and as a consequence cardiovascular disease.
  • It’s like a broken water pipe in your home. Sleep loss will leak down into every nook and cranny of your physiology, even tampering with the very DNA nucleic alphabet that spells out your daily health narrative. 
  • Advice for better sleep:
    • Regularity. Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time, no matter whether it’s the weekday or the weekend.
    • Keep it cool. Your body needs to drop its core temperature by about two to three degrees Fahrenheit to initiate sleep and then to stay asleep, and it’s the reason you will always find it easier to fall asleep in a room that’s too cold than too hot. So aim for a bedroom temperature of around 65 degrees, or about 18 degrees Celsius.
    • If you are staying in bed awake for too long, you should get out of bed and go to a different room and do something different. The reason is because your brain will very quickly associate your bedroom with the place of wakefulness, and you need to break that association.
  • Sleep is a nonnegotiable biological necessity. It is your life-support system, and the decimation of sleep throughout industrialized nations is having a catastrophic impact on our health, our wellness, even the safety and the education of our children.
  • We can’t catch up on sleep. Sleep is not like the bank. You can’t accumulate a debt and then hope to pay it off at a later point in time.