Every time I read an article on the importance of sleep and the negative cumulative impact of insufficient sleep, I cringe. For decades, I was one of those people that confidently stated, “I only need 5 hours of sleep a night.” Now I am confident that I simply can’t bring my best to the world if I keep starving myself of sleep. The research on the importance of quality sleep is compelling and these two TED talks offer some compelling insights.
Jeff Iliff – One More reason To Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Jeff Iliff is a neuroscientist and he and his research team have learned that, during sleep, our brains are literally ‘cleansed’ of the waste and toxins that build up when we work the brain. This helps our brain stay healthy. Conversely, poor sleep quality and duration results in a build up of wastes – the same type of wastes that are in high concentrations in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s. They don’t know if there is a causal relationship but it is an interesting correlation!
Russell Foster – Why Do We Sleep?
This is another interesting TED talk on sleep if you are keen to learn more. Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist, which means he is an expert on the body’s sleep cycles. In this talk, Foster slays (with humour) several common sleep myths and challenges dominant attitudes about sleep being a ‘waste of time’. He says it’s high time we take sleep seriously as a society. “This isn’t some sort of crystal-waving nonsense,” he says. “This is a pragmatic response to good health. If you have good sleep, it increases your concentration, attention, decision-making, creativity, social skills, health.”