Here are my comments on the book:
How is sleep the secret sauce to success? In his book Shawn Stevenson, bestselling author and creator of The Model Health Show (featured as the #1 Nutrition and Fitness podcast on iTunes), graduate of the University of Missouri with a background in biology and kinesiology, and a dynamic keynote speaker who has spoken for TEDx, universities, and numerous organizations, addresses the importance behind quality sleep and emphasizes how a lack of it can significantly affect you. He gives a plethora of ways and strategies on ways to increase your quality of sleep. Some of these ideas include taking certain supplements, setting the room temperature to 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit (15-20 degrees Celsius), and avoiding looking at screens an hour prior to going to bed. Here are some of the points to the book:
1. Sleep affects your body and mind significantly. Want to increase your productivity? Get more quality sleep. Want to become healthier? Get more quality sleep. Want to increase your happiness? Get more quality sleep. You’ll never be able to be the best you until you start getting more quality sleep and the right amount of it. “There isn’t one facet of your mental, emotional, or physical performance that’s not affected by the quality of your sleep. The big challenge is that in our fast-paced world today, millions of people are chronically sleep deprived and suffering the deleterious effects of getting low-quality sleep. The consequences of sleep deprivation aren’t pretty either. Try immune system failure, diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression, and memory loss, just to name a few. Most people don’t realize that their continuous sleep problems are also a catalyst for the diseases and appearance issues they’re experiencing. Studies have shown that just one night of sleep deprivation can make you as insulin resistant as a person with type 2 diabetes. This translates directly to aging faster, decreased libido, and storing more body fat than you want to (say it ain’t so!). Now stretch that out over weeks, months, even years, and you can start to see why lack of sleep can be such a huge problem.”
2. Not sure how to get more sleep? It’s as simple as scheduling it in your calendar. Just as you would set up an appointment or a meeting, schedule time for your sleep and work around that block of time. It’s much easier to stick to something when it’s been scheduled rather than going off of what’s on top of your head. “When you know you have a big task, project, or event coming up, pull out a calendar and plan ahead how you can get your ideal number of sleep hours in. Oftentimes it’s as simple as setting up a schedule. But people overlook it because, well, it’s just too easy. If it’s important to you, you’ll schedule it. Stick to that schedule as well as you can, and know that you will get the work done better and faster if you’re more rested. We usually sacrifice our sleep to cram in more work because we didn’t plan efficiently. And as the wise Benjamin Franklin said, ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.’”
3. If you have a choice or option, try to sleep when it’s night time or dark outside as we humans naturally have a sleep cycle/pattern also known as the circadian rhythm. Basically, we didn’t evolve to sleep during the day and to be awake at night. By going against how your body has evolved, you’re doing “harm” to your body. “Humans have evolved with a predictable pattern of light and darkness that has always controlled our sleep cycles. Your sleep cycle, or circadian timing system, is heavily impacted by the amount of sunlight you receive during the day. It may sound counterintuitive that getting more sunlight during the day can help you sleep better at night, but science has proven that this is precisely the case. Your body’s circadian timing system is not just some airy-fairy thing. This is a real, built-in, 24-hour clock that’s not that much different from the clock on your cell phone or wristwatch. There are certain times of day that your body is designed to release specific hormones. This circadian timing system, along with the scheduled release of hormones, helps to control your digestion, immune system, blood pressure, fat utilization, appetite, and mental energy, among other things. Your circadian timing system is regulated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a small group of nerve cells found in the hypothalamus in your brain. The hypothalamus is considered to be the master gland of your body’s hormonal system. It controls your body’s hunger, thirst, fatigue, body temperature, and sleep cycles by acting as a master clock. So, now you know, when it comes to sleep, you’ve literally got to have your head in the game. Now, how does morning light improve sleep? Light actually signals your hypothalamus and all corresponding organs and glands to be alert and ‘wake up.’ That light exposure, specifically sunlight exposure, triggers your body to produce optimal levels of daytime hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate your biological clock. Too little light exposure during the day and too much artificial light exposure in the evening will negatively impact your ability to sleep well at night. One of the most vital compounds affected by light exposure is the powerful neurotransmitter serotonin.” He later says, “A recent study that focused on the sleep quality of day-shift office workers revealed some shocking results. When compared to office workers who have direct access to windows at work, those office workers who didn’t have access to windows got 173 percent less exposure to natural light and, as a result, slept an average of 46 minutes less each night. This sleep deficit resulted in more reported physical ailments, lower vitality, and poorer sleep quality. The office workers with more natural light exposure tended to be more physically active and happier, and they had an overall higher quality of life. Sounds like serotonin is doing its job, right? Well, this is only a small slice of the pie. Not only is serotonin rooted in your belly, it is also located in blood platelets, your central nervous system, and even your skin.”
By Ryan Timothy Lee
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