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Sleep Smarter

21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success

By Shawn Stevenson
12-minute read
Audio available
Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson

Sleep Smarter (2014) is your quickstart manual for improving the quality of your sleep. Drawing from a host of scientific studies and punctuated with practical tips, this accessible guide promises to change the way you think about sleep and give you a better night’s rest, starting tonight.

  • Productivity enthusiasts who think sleep is a waste of time
  • Insomniacs who need help drifting off
  • Those waking up feeling exhausted

Shawn Stevenson studied business, biology and kinesiology at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, before founding Advanced Integrative Health Alliance – a company providing wellness services for individuals and organizations worldwide. He is also a keynote speaker and podcaster, having spoken at TEDx and created The Model Health Show podcast.

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Sleep Smarter

21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success

By Shawn Stevenson
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson
Synopsis

Sleep Smarter (2014) is your quickstart manual for improving the quality of your sleep. Drawing from a host of scientific studies and punctuated with practical tips, this accessible guide promises to change the way you think about sleep and give you a better night’s rest, starting tonight.

Key idea 1 of 7

The importance of sleep is overlooked and underrated.

In our modern world, which prizes speed and productivity, sleep can seem like such a waste of time. If we’re swamped with work or overwhelmed by a laundry list of tasks, the first thing that we sacrifice is our sleep. This war on rest has become so acute that the average person’s sleeping hours have decreased from roughly nine hours to seven.

But there are big problems with painting sleep as the enemy of productivity. When you’re sleep deprived, not only are you slower and less creative – you also accomplish less.

One study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, found that surgeons awake for over 24 hours took up to 14 percent longer to complete tasks and made 20 percent more mistakes once they did. And if there’s one person you don’t want to slip up, it’s your surgeon.

One primary reason for this is that sleep deprivation reduces the brain’s glucose content – an essential carbohydrate that your grey matter uses as fuel. And this glucose starvation doesn’t affect all parts of your brain equally; the ones that are hardest hit are your parietal lobe and prefrontal cortex, which are involved with problem-solving and high-level thinking. After 24 hours without sleep, glucose in these regions decreases between 12 and 14 percent.

Furthermore, several studies have shown that skipping one night of rest makes us as insulin resistant as a type-2 diabetic. Having an insufficient amount of this essential hormone leads directly to weight gain, signs of aging and decreased sexual drive.

Thus, sleep is not the enemy of productivity or an obstacle to overcome. It is a necessary restorative state, vital for our physical and psychological well-being. We simply cannot be healthy or function at peak performance without good quality sleep.

That’s partly because being awake is catabolic, while sleep is anabolic. Catabolism occurs when molecules oxidize – they combine with oxygen, causing them to break down. Anabolism is the opposite of this: it constructs molecules from smaller units, literally building us up. So, while we sleep our bodies are repairing themselves – fighting signs of aging and strengthening our immune, muscular and skeletal systems.

Hopefully now you understand the value of a good night’s rest and that scaling back on sleep in the name of productivity is counterproductive. So, what can you do to increase the quality of your Zs? Find out in the next blink!

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