Sleep Well, Live Longer And Be More Productive

Sleep is an activity that is common to all human beings. At least most of the human population sleep at least once in a day. But have we ever asked the question ‘why do we sleep?’ After all, when you sleep, you are doing nothing right? Not exactly.
Sleep as a topic went without discussion or investigation for many centuries. So much that most of the findings made from the study of sleep have come in the past twenty-five to thirty years. If you have never asked the question, now is the time to ask why we sleep and why we have to. Why can’t we all go on and on without sleep? Since there is enough work to do?
One other question to ask about sleep is ‘how many hours should we sleep?’ Due to challenging situations in many work places and the pressure to perform, many have felt the need to reduce the amount of sleep they get each night. 
They think of cutting their daily sleep by two hours and salivate at the amount of work they can get done in two hours. But there is a better strategy to getting work done.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, ‘most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night.’ You can say that you have seen many adults who sleep for six hours or even four and seem to work at the level required from them.
You may be right. In fact, the sleep foundation continues ‘however, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours.’
Someone might be able to do it but it might be unsuitable for your body system. Sleep is one activity where it is difficult to follow another man’s example especially when you’re trying to reduce the number of hours you sleep.
Sleep deprivation is a common problem to many. 37% of 20-39 year-olds report short sleep duration and 40% of 40-59 year-olds. Overall, 35.3% of adults report less than 7 hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period. This underlines the importance of considering the issue of sleep deprivation as it has been linked to medical and other occupational errors.
sleep deprivation

There are many benefits of sleeping properly and we will talk about the biggest two.
What are the advantages you have when you sleep properly?
1.      You will improve your health
Is there anything we can do without good health? Very few and ironically one of them is sleep. What happens to your health when you sleep less than you should? It affects your health, negatively.
It has been found by researchers that people who get the optimal amount of sleep are always more energetic and feel less fatigue than people who are sleep deprived. It actually defeats the purpose of depriving yourself of sleep if you are going to go through the next day tired. Fatigue as we can all agree upon, drives your productivity down.
Lack of sleep has also been found to correlate with health problems like heart attack or cardiac arrest. It was also found that women who deprive themselves of sleep are more likely to develop breast cancer than those who sleep properly.
On average, a man who sleeps an average of eight hours will use one-third of his life to sleep. I have picked eight hours for an analogy because it is the average of seven and nine. Now, a man who drives that down by two hours will spend one-fourth of his life sleeping. It may look like a big difference over a lifetime but let me ask you a question.
What would you rather choose? Three-quarters of sixty years of a less productive life or two-thirds of ninety years of a highly productive life?
When a person has been deprived of sleep for a long period of time, it may lead to blurry vision and a decrease in the strength of his/her immune system.
Sleep deprivation has also been linked with chronic diseases like hypertension, depression, and obesity and if continued for much longer than the capacity of a body system can lead to death. It has been found that sleep is just as important to human health as diet and exercise.
2.      You will boost your brain power
The brain has been described as the powerhouse of the body system. Increasing the power of the powerhouse of your body gives you the opportunity to achieve more. Improving your brain power will spiral into other parts of your life.
Boosting your brainpower will lead to increase in productivity in your social, family, and work life. Having the optimal amount of sleep will make you more alert and in some situations, it may be the difference between life and death.
In Gifted Hands, the world-renowned neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, wrote about an accident he was involved in because of sleep deprivation. Many have been unlucky and died as a result of accidents caused by sleep deprivation.
Studies have found that highly sleepy workers are 70 percent more likely to be involved in accidents than non-sleepy workers. Some disastrous accidents caused by sleep deprivation include the nuclear plant disaster at Chernobyl in Ukraine where 134 people were diagnosed with radiation poisoning and 28 of them died during the following two weeks with many others dying later.
Others include Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill in Alaska where 258,000 barrels of crude oil were spilled and wildlife destroyed, space shuttle Challenger accident that killed all seven crew members.
You have probably seen one or two accidents that were caused because someone was trying to cheat nature. According to sleep statistics, drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually in the United States.
According to research, it has been documented that the human brain can only maintain optimum concentration for about four hours. A human being is only able to focus on creative work for about four hours. Today, it is easy to see people who work for 12 hours daily but with a lot of non-creative work during the time.
If a man has to increase his working hours and does it by reducing the amount of sleep, then it is a losing proposition. A fully productive 12 hours is better than a tired fourteen hours. It has also been found that when someone is asleep, their brain works on the tasks they had done during the day. In this case, it is better to sleep and trust your brain.
Sleep improves memory and helps learning activities. What is the optimum amount of sleep? As I have written earlier, it depends. But the safest bet is eight hours. However, there is a sign you should look out for.
It has been estimated that it should take ten to fifteen minutes for someone who is sleeping optimally to fall asleep. Someone who falls asleep less than five minutes after hitting the bed is probably sleep deprived.
Someone who sleeps while performing a task is definitely sleep deprived. 37.9% of people reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month while 4.7% reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving in the same period of time.
For having a healthy life and improving your brain capacity which will also increase your productivity, it is important to consider if the number of hours of sleep you’re getting is enough.
How can you sleep better?
Try to get about 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily to be on the safe side. It has been documented over the years that the amount of sleep adults need to perform optimally is 7 to 9 hours. Adults above 65 years need 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
What is the best time to sleep?
Researchers have found that the best time window to sleep is between 8pm and midnight. It is estimated that a sleep cycle lasts for 90 minutes. An individual needs about 5 to 6 cycles to perform optimally. It is best to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle to avoid being groggy. It is also important to sleep and wake up at similar times of the day. It is better to avoid large meals, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine close to your sleeping time.
The time most comfortable for you in that window will largely be determined by your personal circadian rhythm. But it is beneficial that whatever time you choose to sleep, you get the appropriate number of hours your body requires to be at its best.
What do you think about sleep? How do you think we can sleep to get more out of life?

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