On Sleep

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Sleep is underrated.

Sleep is also very frustrating.

Years ago, I regularly felt frustrated because sleeping seemed like such a waste of time. Eight hours doing nothing? REALLY? There’s so much to see and do and accomplish. Why do we have to waste time sleeping?

I’ve changed my tune.

The sooner you realize sleep is anything but a waste of time, the sooner you’ll understand that you’ll be much more effective at everything you see and do and accomplish.

There are plenty of arguments about how much you should get, and whether naps are a good or bad thing, and how long they should be. The answers also seem to change often and also change as you age. But the bottom line is that getting enough sleep is linked to a healthier, longer, and more engaged life.

The factoid that helped me make the mental hurdle was something (and I’m totally getting the specifics wrong here, it’s the concept that matters here) about the brain healing itself overnight, and using that time to process and store memories accumulated throughout the day.

The brain works hard (well, most do). It’s the largest consumer of calories in the human body. Just like your muscles need recovery time after exertion, so too does the brain. The problem is that many of the activities we might consider recovery are anything but — they’re exertion of various forms. Reading, watching TV, playing games, partying — these are all activities that engage the brain and don’t really qualify as “rest”.

Sleep is the brain’s recovery time.

Getting enough good sleep turns out to be an incredibly important part of staying healthy, both physically and mentally.

Yes, I totally get that some lifestyles and some life situations and some health issues can make this difficult. But that difficultly doesn’t change the fact that it’s needed. Most of those situations actually increase the need at the same time they make it harder to achieve.

To the extent you can, get the sleep you need.

You’ll be a better person for it.


3 thoughts on “On Sleep”

  1. When I was in my early 60’s I averaged 5 hours of sleep a night. Two decades I got smarter and average 7 hours a night. More is truly better for me at least.

  2. I agree with you … however, many years ago when I was in college one of my professors told me I would retain data better if I would read the chapter into a tape recorder (shows my age), and play it back while I slept. Have it keep repeating the reading until I woke up. So, in essence, what you are saying, I never got any sleep? No wonder I was tired all the time.

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