Sep
05

The ONE THING That Will Make or Break Your Health

By

I had no idea I was doing something on a daily (well, nightly) basis that was so damaging to my health: Not getting enough sleep.

I thought, like many people, that because I always woke up before the alarm went off, I was getting enough sleep. Usually it was 6-6.5 hours.

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, PhDAccording to Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep, the research says that’s not enough. If you get less than 7-9 hours of sleep every night, you are endangering your health.

After even one night of less than 5 hours of sleep, natural killer cells (which kill cancer cells that appear in your body every day) drop by 70%. Just one night!

And routinely sleeping less than 6 or 7 hours a night increases your risk of cancer by 50%. And, “based on epidemiological data, any adult sleeping and average of 6.75 hours a night would be predicted to live only into their early sixties….” (p. 262). In an interview on NPR with Terry Gross, Walker said, “We also know that every disease that is killing us in developed nations has causal and significant links to a lack of sleep. And a lack of sleep defined as six hours of sleep or less.”

Yikes!

Walker cites many amazing studies, on everything from the sleep habits of various species, to what happened when high schools moved their start time an hour later (70% fewer car accidents, 212 points more on the SAT tests!). He calls himself “the sleep diplomat” and is out to help people understand the importance of sleep for our health and even societal well-being.

Take car crashes, for instance. Driving when drowsy is actually more dangerous than driving drunk!

He also points out that sleeping pills, alcohol and other drugs merely sedate you, they don’t help you get naturalistic sleep. Your “sleep” will not restore you as it’s meant to.

Though Walker takes a decidedly evolutionary approach, what he says about the function of sleep made me marvel at how God created us, and gave us this amazing, FREE source of nightly rejuvenation.

If only we will take it seriously….

Few books have actually changed my behavior. This one has.

What tipped me over the edge was learning that you can’t judge whether you’re sleep-deprived. You get acclimated to impaired performance, lower alertness, and reduced energy levels.

The bottom line is: If you’re not getting around 8 hours of sleep per night, you’re sleep deprived and are undermining your long-term health.

I am determined to get to bed earlier so that I can get my 8 hours of sleep that human beings apparently always need. Nothing can substitute.

As I address this issue in myself, I’m seeing just how many “heart issues” are involved. If you struggle with insomnia, I encourage you to read this book, work on whatever “heart issues” are preventing you from getting enough sleep. Follow the suggestions below, and get more help if you need it.

This one thing–getting enough sleep–may

literally save your life.

Here are some suggestions from the book on how to get more and better sleep:

  1.  Establish a regular bedtime and sake-up time, even on weekends.
  2. Go to bed only when sleepy and avoid sleeping on the couch early/mid-evenings.
  3. Never lie awake in bed for a significant time period; rather, get out of bed and do something quiet and relaxing until the urge to sleep returns.
  4. Avoid daytime napping if you are having difficulty sleeping at night.
  5. Reduce anxiety-provoking thoughts and worries by learning to mentally decelerate before bed (here’s where Healing Codes come in!).
  6. Remove visible clockfaces from view in the bedroom, preventing clock-watching anxiety at night. Also all screens, and don’t look at any screens at least an hour before bed.

There is an appendix with twelve other suggestions. Highly recommend the book!

And if you need help in finding and addressing the “heart issues” that may be undermining your ability to get a good night’s sleep every night, feel free to contact me for some Healing Codes coaching.

 

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