I’ve always loved sleep. Krista says it’s one of my natural strengths (and I’m all about playing to my strengths). But I became interested in the benefits of sleep when I saw this TED Talk by neuroscientist Jeff Iliff.
Here’s the gist of the video: The brain accounts for around 2% of the body’s mass, but uses 25% of the body’s energy supply. As a result of its crazy energy needs, the brain also produces a comparable amount of waste, which it needs to dispose. And this is where things get interesting…
To get rid of the waste, Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) moves through the brain clearing out the waste. But, this only happens in the sleeping brain. While awake, almost no CSF is moving through the brain. And among the waste being cleared while you sleep is a protein called amyloid-beta, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The takeaway: Your brain works really hard and, as a result produces a lot of garbage. That garbage hangs out in your brain until sleep gives it an opportunity to take the garbage out. When you don’t sleep, your brain becomes full of garbage. Garbage brain is bad, so go get a good night’s sleep.
And there is nothing like a good night’s sleep. Not only does it provide the requisite amount of energy to get through the day, but it improves one’s physical and mental wellbeing. Here are 5 benefits of regularly getting a good night’s sleep:
1. Higher Performance
In his book Essentialism, Greg McKeown shares a little known takeaway from the K. Anders Ericsson study on violinists (this study was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘10,000 hour rule’). It turns out the second largest factor between good and great violinists was how much they slept. The best violinists slept over eight and a half hours a night plus almost three hours of napping each week. The conclusion: more sleep = greater concentration = greater results. Naps #FTW.
2. Recovery and Muscle Building
Pro-football player JJ Watt (Houstan Texans) sleeps between 8 and 11 hours a night to make sure his body is in the best shape to perform. He even keeps a replica of his bed in the Texans equipment room so he can nap between team meetings and practices. Why? Because sleep gives the body an opportunity to replenish testosterone levels and build muscle after exercise.
(Disclaimer: Merely sleeping doesn’t build muscle. If that was the case, I’d be jacked. Exercise is also part of the muscle building equation.)
3. Improved Well-Being and Health
This isn’t rocket science: When you get more sleep, your mood improves. But for those of you who need to hear it from Harvard, studies have shown that “healthy sleep can enhance well-being.” Additionally consistently sleeping less than the recommended amount puts your body at risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and even a stroke.
Sleep deprivation in general weakens the immune system. It can cause diabetes, or just slow your metabolism to the point that it resembles a type-2 diabetes.
And if you need a little more evidence, check out this picture of Goose. He looks pretty happy to me.
4. Improved Decision Making
People who are sleep deprived tend to make decisions out of a false sense of optimism according to this study from Duke University. The study explains that after a sleep deprived night, there is increased activity in the area of the brain associated with positive outcomes.
But sleep can possibly do more than prevent bad decisions. A good night’s sleep could potentially enhance our creative solving problem ability.
5. Lower Stress
High stress and sleep deprivation form a vicious cycle—stress can lead to less sleep, and a lack of sleep can cause more stress. In a study, 45% of adults claimed higher amounts of stress after not receiving enough sleep. In that same study it was found that 37% of adults studied were more fatigued due to high stress levels.
We tend to live in a world that glorifies those entrepreneurs who are always hustling and seem to never sleep. But more and more people are recognizing that sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle. And that sleep has the potential to lead to more success. Take sometime this Labor Day Weekend to get caught up on sleep.
A special thanks to Quinn, our intern, for help researching and writing this article.