In this featured video, professor Matthew Walker, PhD., founder and director of the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science and author of the book “Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams,” shares the latest discoveries about sleep and how it impacts virtually every area of our physical and mental health.
I read Dr. Walker’s book and share his view that sleep is very important, even more important than diet and exercise, because diet and exercise will have minimal effects on the body if constantly exhausted and it is unlikely you will have the energy to eat well or exercise if you are always tired.
Plus, sleeplessness has been shown to contribute to chronic illnesses such as dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
In his book, Dr. Walker suggests insomnia is “one of the most pressing and prevalent medical issues facing modern society,” yet it is rarely acted on in ways reflecting its importance. He notes the “sleep aid” industry, encompassing Rx sleeping pills and over-the-counter sleep medications, is a $30-B-a-year industry in the US.
Desperate people are putting money toward drugs that have not only been shown to be ineffective for solving sleep problems, but also are known to increase the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Most adults need at least 8 hours of high-quality sleep a night, and children and teenagers even more. The reality is about 1 in 3 Americans gets less than 7 hours of sleep a night and more than 83-M adults in the US are sleep-deprived.
While losing an hour or 2 of sleep may not seem like a big deal, Dr. Walker presents data suggesting even a single night of poor sleep can have devastating consequences. If you have not yet prioritized proper sleep as 1 of the non-negotiables in your life, Dr. Walker’s research may be the impetus to move you in that direction.
Regardless of your thoughts on the subject, research linking sleep deprivation to chronic disease and shorter life spans cannot be ignored.
The scientific facts underscore belief that there is no substitute for getting a full night’s rest. Nor is there any excuse for ignoring the body’s need for sleep.
While diet and exercise are vital to your health, without proper sleep, your efforts in those areas will be less effective.
Dr. Walker says: “Sleep is not an optional lifestyle luxury. Sleep is a nonnegotiable, biological necessity. It’s a life-support system. The decimation of sleep throughout industrialized nations is having a catastrophic impact on our health [and] our wellness … It’s a silent sleep epidemic, and it is fast becoming one of the greatest public health challenges we now face.”
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively, Get good sleep