Reproduced from Sensate Explorer Issue #001
Why Sleep Really Is So Important
You know this already. Sleep is essential on every level and you need to sleep for eight hours a day – that’s a third of your life.
While it’s tempting to think that sleeping eight hours is a ‘waste’ of precious life, this is a mistake. And for many of us, the idea of eight hours of restful sleep is only a dream!
If you are not getting enough good quality sleep, then you will be less productive and have emotional and physical vulnerabilities in the short and long term. Sorry, blame evolution.
We almost never experience very low light conditions or silence now, and this is a real problem from an evolutionary perspective, where noise acts as threat warning and darkness is the time to rest while predators roam outside. Research from 2019 also shows that our brains cells actually ‘clean’ themselves during deep sleep, when brainwave activity slows down. This has huge implications for cognitive function as we age, and on longevity in general.
But wait before you reach for that app or tracking device. There are concerns about tracking health data if that does not lead directly to behaviour change. Tracking sleep in particular can have the reverse of the desired effect, leading to sleep anxiety amongst people who already have poor sleep or anxiety.
The good news is that like pretty much everything in life, how we breathe may hold the key to change. This apparently simple function (it is simple actually, humans just make it complex) that we all ‘know’ how to do already is easily knocked off track by life’s ups and downs, and getting it back can be harder then you might think once poor breathing and breath holding has become a habit. As you can imagine, this is relevant for things like sleep apnoea as well.
Two chemicals in particular are immediately affected by how we breathe – CO2 and NO (carbon dioxide and nitric oxide). If levels of these chemicals are low in the body due to overbreathing, then the body and mind will find it very difficult to relax and release tension.
So we agree that sleep is an essential thing. Now what do you do about getting the best sleep you can? We’ve collected a couple of resources for you below. As a starting point, try our founder Stefan Chmelik’s article on Getting It Right, focused on real, practical and effective solutions, both from traditional wisdom of thousands of years of experience and the latest scientific neurology research.
Next month, ‘Meditation’s Biological Footprint’. Look out for this by subscribing and following us.
– Your Sensate Team