Updated at October 13, 2022
Sleep – An Underrated Power
The value of a good night's sleep
I remember when I was 18 years old (2015), when I started college, I used to stay up all night If I had a test to take the next morning or a project to deliver. Several times I stayed up all night to study for a test - or play GTA V Online - and this bad habit intensified when I fell in love with programming and decided to become a full-stack self-employed developer, at which point I would spend more than two nights in a row awake. I fueled my body with coffee and my brain fed itself on dopamine (the substance responsible for the feeling of pleasure) because I was obsessed with programming and thought sleeping was a waste of time.
Today (March 2022), even after reaching my professional goal, I'm still terrible with my sleep habits. Until recently, my sleep logs on my smartphone said I slept an average of 2 hours and 50 minutes a day. Knowing that a man should sleep an average of 7 to 8 hours a day, these records left me scared, and for the first time in my memory, I was worried about my sleep and my health.
For 3 weeks now, I have dedicated myself solely and exclusively to improving the time and quality of my sleep, creating a routine and nighttime ritual that help me relax my body, calm my mind and signal that it's time to sleep and I'm fascinated by the fact that, in such a short time, sleeping well has improved my health, productivity, focus, and creativity.
The power of sleep
Since I started to be interested in sleep, I have spent most of the day reading articles and talks and in 99.9% of all the content I consume about sleep, the materials and studies were published by Matthew Walker in his book “Why we sleep”. I haven't had the opportunity to read it yet, however, the content found on the internet already makes evident how neglecting sleep is harmful.
“There is a fantastic discovery, scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer, improves your memory, makes you more creative, makes you look more attractive, helps with weight maintenance and permanently lessens the urge to eat, protect you from cancer and dementia, keep colds and flu away, it will even make you happier, less depressed and less anxious, are you interested?” - Matthew Walker on Why We Sleep
Although sleeping may seem like an evolutionary stupidity due to the fact that we can't hunt, defend, eat, gather or reproduce, its benefits outweigh these disadvantages because sleep produces complex neurochemical baths that improve our brain in many ways replenish our immune system's arsenal. In other words, sleep enhances our evolutionary abilities.
Sleeping well will not only make you feel better the next day, but it will also extend your lifespan, making you much better compared to the life you would have if you continued to neglect sleep.
Facts you probably didn't know about sleep
- Men who sleep 5 hours a night have significantly smaller testicles than those who sleep 7 hours or more.
- Routinely sleeping only 5 hours a night, makes you have a testosterone level of a person 10 years older.
- Sleeping 4 hours a single night reduces 70% of immune cells that fight cancer.
- In a global experiment done in more than 70 countries (out of 1.6 billion people) that practice daylight saving time, it was found that in the spring, when countries lost 1 hour of sleep, there was a 24% increase in heart attacks in THE NEXT DAY, in the fall, when they gained 1 hour of sleep, there was a 21% reduction in heart attacks.
- In the Guinness Book, sleep records are not allowed.
Things you can do to improve your sleep
- Not drinking coffee 8 hours before bedtime.*
- Turn off all the lights in your room.
- Stay away from any blue light emitters (displays and LED lights).**
- Read a book.
- If you can control it, keep your room temperature between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius.
- Turn off the internet at least 1 hour before bed.
How to know if you are sleeping well
I recommend that you track your sleep improvement process. Although on iOS devices it is possible to know your bedtime, based on your usage during the set sleep time, this data is not very accurate and can be easily manipulated.***
For better sleep tracking, I highly recommend the Pillow app, it analyzes your sleep cycles automatically using an Apple Watch, or manually using an iPhone or iPad. It has many features like personalized insights and tips based on your sleep data, recording all the sounds you make during sleep, and much more. This is the best sleep tracker you can find available on the App Store, I even bought an Apple Watch just so I could analyze my sleep cycles automatically.
These are the sleep data that I obtained in the last week by applying several of the habits mentioned above, as you can see, my bedtime has improved a lot since I started creating a sleep ritual and I hope I can improve even more.
Sleep unfortunately is not an optional lifestyle luxury, it constitutes a good part of our immune system, decreasing the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems and significantly increasing our lifespan. So sleep, because your quality of life depends on it.
— I hope you sleep well.
* In fact, after discovering the negative effects that coffee has on my sleep, I haven't been drinking coffee at all.
** You can also choose to wear blue-light-blocking glasses. I use Exyra glasses and you can also get them at 15% off using the code “nublson”.
*** You can just leave your phone locked somewhere and do something else like watch a series on Netflix on your computer.
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© 2022, Nubelson Fernandes