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Transform your life, one night at a time

Apr 25, 2019 | Lifestyle | 1 comment

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We were at a school sports’ presentation recently and one of the presenters really grabbed our attention. Not about how active children should be but the opposite. This is what she said:

School kids need a lot sleep. Studies have shown that by getting your kids into bed early and allowing them to have a good night’s rest, you reduce their risk of being injured in school sport by 68%.

That’s a huge statement: by simply getting kids into bed early the risk of injury drops by that much!

We chatted to some friends about it and one referred us to the New York Times bestseller The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time by none other than Ariana Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post.

The gist of the book is that our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted has plunged us into a sleep deprivation crisis, with profound consequences to our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness. What we need is nothing short of a sleep revolution: only by renewing our relationship with sleep can we take back control of our lives.

Ms Huffington relates how overwork – and lack of sleep – is a killer. Death from overwork even has its own words in Japanese (karoshi), in Chinese (guolaosi), and in Korean (gwarosa). No such word exists in English, but the casualties are all around us. Sleep deprivation has become an epidemic.

Here are some extracts from the book that we wanted to share with you:

As the number of things we need to cram into each day has increased, the value of our awake-time has skyrocketed. Benjamin Franklin’s “Time is money!” has become a corporate-world mantra. And this has come at the expense of our time asleep, which since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution we have treated like some dull, distant relative we visit only reluctantly and out of obligation, for as short a time as we can manage.
But scientists are resoundingly confirming what our ancestors knew instinctively: that our sleep is not empty time. Sleep is a time of intense neurological activity: a rich time of renewal, memory consolidation, brain and neurochemical cleansing, and cognitive maintenance. Properly appraised, our sleeping time is as valuable a commodity as the time we are awake. In fact, getting the right amount of sleep enhances the quality of every minute we spend with our eyes open.
But today much of our society is still operating under the collective delusion that sleep is simply time lost to other pursuits, that it can be endlessly appropriated at will to satisfy our increasingly busy lives and overstuffed to-do lists. Sleep deprivation is glamorised and celebrated: “You snooze, you lose.” The combination of a deeply misguided definition of what it means to be successful in today’s world—that it can come only through burnout and stress—along with the distractions and temptations of a 24/7 wired world, has imperilled our sleep as never before.
Our houses, our bedrooms—even our beds—are littered with beeping, vibrating, flashing screens. It’s the never-ending possibility of connecting—with friends, with strangers, with the entire world, with every TV show or movie ever made—with just the press of a button that is, not surprisingly, addictive. Humans are social creatures—we’re hardwired to connect. Even when we’re not actually connecting digitally, we’re in a constant state of heightened anticipation. And always being in this state doesn’t exactly put us in the right frame of mind to wind down when it’s time to sleep. Though we don’t give much thought into how we put ourselves to bed, we have little resting places and refuelling shrines all over our houses, like little doll beds, where our technology can recharge, even if we can’t.

So, what can we take from all of this? One thing’s for sure: think twice before you take Bon Jovi’s advice. Remember, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead?

Until I’m six feet under
Baby I don’t need a bed
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
‘Til they roll me over
And lay my bones to rest
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead


1 Comment

  1. F Simoes

    We are so entrenched in our habits it is easier to take on a new activity, however unlikely, than it is to take on a few more needed hours of sleep per night. Sleep therapists are the next big thing!


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