Why we sleep

These days I’m reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, and it’s eye-opening on many levels. We all know that sleep is an important pillar of good health, but hardly anyone takes it seriously. Surviving on just 3-4 hours of sleep is something a lot of people pride themselves on, either as a proof of how productive they are or of their exciting social life.

As it turns out, we’re only starting to understand the role of sleep in our overall wellbeing–and the consequences of getting less than enough of it. Enough usually means at least 7.5-8.5 hours a day, as wasteful and luxurious as it sounds. Anything less than this, and the results will show after just a few nights: from impaired concentration and long-term memory, to chronic stress and inflammation, to weakened immunity, to increased risk of Alzheimer, cancer, obesity, and dying in a car accident. Having researched sleep for 30 years, the author found that nearly all bodily and mental functions need a hard reset at night, and will slowly deteriorate without enough time to do so.

I used to be one of these kids who boasted about working all day, then partying all night, then working all day again. I thought I’m much more reasonable these days, but my Fitbit stats are still far off from where they should ideally be. So instead of praising the virtues of sleep for another few paragraphs, I’ll go straight to bed now and hopefully catch up the recommended 8 hours tonight. If you don’t think you can ever afford this much of sleep, I’d strongly recommend to give that book a try. It might turn out you can’t really afford not to.

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