The Sleep Revolution paints a grim picture of Western sleep culture, but not without extending a hand to school kids, students, professionals and CEOs alike by offering genuine advice on how to stop wearing sleep deprivation as a badge of honor and finally get a good night’s sleep.
If you haven’t heard Arianna Huffington’s story about how she shattered her cheek bone because she suddenly fell asleep, check it out, it marks the beginning of this book. Ever since she’s been dedicated to changing our perspective on sleep and stopping the “I need less sleep than you” madness.
Over 30% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep each night, and in a lot of industries (consulting, investment banking) a lack of sleep is even considered cool and productive.
Yet, across the board, more sleep leads to better results. For young kids in school, for students in college, for professionals and CEOs, for lovers, athletes and artists. In case you’re part of those 30%, I hope these lessons will turn you over to the sleep side of the force 🙂
Here are 3 lessons from The Sleep Revolution:
- Your sleep deprivation has probably started in your childhood already.
- Sleep next to your partner every time you get a chance.
- Use f.lux to avoid interrupting your melatonin production atnight.
Ready to take a nap? Hold on, a few more minutes and you’ll get the most of it!
Lesson 1: You’ve been deprived of your sleep since you were a kid.
I HATED getting up at 6 AM in school. Hated it. I had to take the bus to school every morning, which took half an hour, and was always there way too early. No matter how early I went to bed the night before, I was always tired.
Did your school life look similar? Getting up early, needing a while to get there and then ending up there early?
If so, chances are this started wiring you for sleep deprivation, because forcing kids to wake up early disrupts their circadian rhythm. In 1998, Brown University conducted a study among 3,000 high school students and found those, who started school earlier than 7:30 AM, fell into deep sleep within three minutes, if they took them out of class at 8:30 AM and evaluated how sleepy they were. This usually only happens to people with narcolepsy.
Experiments across various schools and universities all lead to the same result: if school starts later, the children do better across the board. I remember learning that school starts later, usually 8:30 AM or sometimes even 9:00 AM, in the UK and envying the kids over there.
This still holds true, so don’t feel bad for letting your kids get some quality shut-eye, even if it means skipping first period sometimes – they’ll be healthier and won’t suffer from chronic sleep deprivation later.
Lesson 2: If you have a partner, sleep next to them!
The benefits of sleeping right don’t stop at productivity, but also extend to your relationship. A 2014 study among 1,000 people found that couples are happier if they:
Sleep next to each other.
Have body contact while being asleep.
But it doesn’t just matter whether you sleep next to your partner or in separate beds altogether – how close you are matters too. 85% of those who slept less than an inch apart reported to be happy in their relationship. This percentage kept decreasing the further apart people slept.
So if you and your partner usually sleep quite far apart, give moving closer a try and see if it makes you happier and sleep better. In the end, the latter is still the most important, so if you just can’t fall asleep while hugging, don’t feel bad for sleeping back to back as usual.
In fact, women’s sex drive is directly connected to how much deep sleep they get – each extra hour leads to a 14% mojo increase, and we all know sex is both fun and healthy.
Lesson 3: Install f.lux to avoid suppressing your melatonin production at night.
One of the best ways to spend more quality time with your partner at night is to ditch electronics after a certain time each day altogether, but depending on where your nighttime habits sit right now, that might be a bit of a stretch.
The least you can do, if you “wind down” using electronic devices at night is to install f.lux. It’s an app that tints the color of your screen in sync with the sunset (and sunrise in the morning). So whenever the sun sets, your screen color turns a more reddish color.
Why does that help you sleep? By removing the blue part of the spectrum from the light your screens emit at night, your body stops suppressing its melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that makes you sleepy and the glands that secrete it automatically activate at dusk. However, blue light is characteristic of daylight, so if you keep staring at a screen with lots of blue light at night, this signals your body that it’s still day time and it won’t start producing melatonin.
By using f.lux, you get the best of both worlds: your body will power down and you can still browse around online before bed!
Note: iOS finally introduced this feature with iOS 9 as well. It’s called Night Shift and will do the same thing f.lux does on your iPhone or iPad.
My personal take-aways
I’ve written quite a few blog posts about sleep. My own isn’t perfect, but it’s well above average. I appreciate that Arianna Huffington made this her message to the world, I think it’s an important cause and it deserves to be studied, shared, and spread. If you know you’re not getting enough sleep, or, even worse, still think sleep is “a waste of time” then this book is definitely for you.