I’ve got a magic pill for you.
It’s been proven to increase both your long-term and short-term health.
It’s been shown to help you feel more alert and have better self-control, feel calmer and make better quick judgments.
It will decrease risks of all diseases — from cancer and heart attacks to the simple cold and strep throat.
It’ll help you build muscle, eat better.
And it can even make you live longer.
Nope. I’m not selling you snake oil.
This stuff is legit.
And it’s totally free.
All you have to do is… sleep 8 hours a night.
Believe me now?
We adults do a real good job at covering up. We have loads of social politeness, and (well, many of us) have a good deal of self-control.
We’re good at kidding ourselves and kidding others.
And that’s why I hear comments like, “Oh, I’m fine with the sleep I’m getting.”
And, “I’m totally managing.”
and, “I feel great. All I need is 5 hours and some coffee.”
And the proof is in those cute little people who aren’t yet smart enough to fake it: babies.
I’ve got loads and loads of stories about babies who spent their days and nights wailing and were magically transformed once they started sleeping (you can find some of them here)
And then, on the flip side are the many many comments I’ve gotten (from friends at yom tov meals, from doctors, from people on the plane when we flew) about how calm my own babies are, and the many anecdotes I’ve heard from clients about the comments they get from their family members and friends about how calm their babies are once they start sleeping well.
So if your baby, who can’t fake a thing, is showing you how it really feels to be overtired vs. well rested… let’s explore this thing
How much sleep do you need?
No, really. How much sleep do you really need?
Well, your average well-rested adult needs about 8 hours of sleep (somewhere between 7 and 9).
But let me ask you: are you well-rested?
If the answer is no, then you’re not alone.
Chronic sleep debt is real and it means that your true sleep need is probably closer to 9-10 hours, so I’d set 8 as an absolute minimum.
What’s sleep debt?
Let me answer that by asking you this: how much sleep do you get?
Again, be honest with yourself here. When do you usually get to bed at night? When do you usually wake for the day?
And… (here comes the kicker) how many times are you being woken at night?
Let’s do some math here: let’s say you turn in for the night at 11. You need to be up at 6:30 to start your day.
We’re at 7.5 hours… and ticking.
Now let me be generous let’s say you only have one kid waking you only once a night. And it takes only 30 minutes to wake, settle him and get back to sleep yourself (considering it usually takes about 10-15 minutes for you to fall back asleep). So let’s say you’re getting about 7 hours minutes every night.
Not bad, right?
Hmm. Maybe not.
If you started with a clean slate, on night one, you’d be deficient 1 hour of sleep. But by the time you get to night two you’re down 2 hours. At the end of the first week, you feel like you’ve lost out on nearly an entire night of sleep… and by the end of two weeks your body’s feeling the effect of about 14 hours of missing sleep.
Studies show that sleep debt lasts at least 2 weeks, though there is also the phenomenon of chronic sleep deprivation that can definitely last far beyond the 2 week mark.
You do. Very very much.
Like I said in the introduction, this “magic pill” has effects on both your short-term and long-term health.
Sleep deprivation lowers your immunity, making it more likely that you’ll get sick now, and also creates an environment of chronic stress in your body, with perpetually elevated cortisol levels. That’ll mean less restful sleep when you do get to sleep, as well as increased risk of a whole host of factors that may cause an earlier death.
But health aside, sleep deprivation affects day-to-day living. It makes our split-second decision making like that of someone who’s drunk (which can be fatal if driving), and can also make it harder for us to control our impulses.
We naturally feel icky when we’re tired, so we’re more likely to be snappy, irritable and generally unpleasant to be around. (Of course, that doesn’t give you a license to be snappy and irritable when you’re tired — after the fact it’s a nisayon that you should try to overcome. The main thing here is more about before the fact.)
And that means: you’re not functioning at 100% optimum levels.
My challenge for you
What’s one thing you can change today – yes, TODAY! – to bring you even a wee bit closer to getting the sleep you really truly need?
Maybe that means getting in bed 30 minutes earlier. Maybe that means taking a quick cat nap. Maybe it’s plugging your phone in in the kitchen when you turn in for the night so you don’t have the temptation to be on it when you’re in bed.
But if you’ve got a baby or toddler waking you up at night… well then stay tuned.
I’ve got something for you that’ll knock your socks off.