By. Garrett Guzman
While this may seem like an ironic title, it couldn’t be a greater truth. When clients ask me what is the single most important aspect to their health (while I dislike this question, because I truly believe it all matters), I always answer with sleep being the number one priority (followed by stress management, nutrition, and exercise). While there are many debates on the optimal diet or the best form of exercise, no one disagrees on how important sleep is to one’s health. Unfortunately, in society today, and especially in America today, sleep is viewed as a luxury. Hustle, hustle, hustle, grind, grind, grind; who’s got time for sleep? Garrett, do you have any clue how busy I am? I am just here to tell you that you better make time for sleep.
Below I would like to share some eye-opening statistics from a phenomenal sleep book entitled “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker, which I highly recommend:
1. Two-thirds of adults in developed nations fail to get the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep.
2. Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night destroys one’s immune system, more than doubling one’s risk of cancer.
3. Inadequate sleep, even modest reductions for one week, disrupt blood sugar levels so greatly that one would be classified as pre-diabetic (or worsen your condition if already diabetic; I know this first-hand).
4. Shorter sleeping increases one’s risk for coronary artery blockage, setting oneself up for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure.
5. Sleep disruptions strongly contribute to all major psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, and suicide-risk (in addition to increasing one’s risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia).
In fact, in “countries where sleep time has declined most dramatically over the past century, such as the US, the UK, Japan, and South Korea, and several in western Europe, are also those suffering the greatest increase in rates of the aforementioned physical diseases and mental disorders.”
In addition, as it relates to one’s fitness, lack of sleep also contributes to poor performance in the gym (as it relates to speed, power, strength, and endurance), worsened hormonal profile (lowered testosterone, increased cortisol), impaired recovery, increases in body fat mass, and decreases in muscle mass.
Still don’t think optimal sleep is a NECESSITY? To be clear, I am not naïve to sleep being a challenge. And I am not naïve to believe that we all don’t experience different sleep challenges (some greater than others). There will be short periods in all of our lives where sleep may be a significant challenge, but we must right the course as soon as possible. The longer we go without optimal sleep, the greater we increase the likelihood of developing and/or worsening one of the above-mentioned diseases and conditions. Make sleep your top priority!