5th April 2021
“Men who sleep 5 hours or less a night have significantly smaller testicles than men who sleep 7 hours or more a night.” Yep, that is what did it, the fact that made me snooze my alarm to get the recommended 7 hours a night. All jokes aside, sleep bequeaths many more prizes than not feeling drowsy and lethargic the next morning. For example, having bigger testicles, as aforementioned.
Ever had to pull an all-nighter in order to complete that history essay you had left until the last minute? Yup, me too. I gotta tell you, I could hardly concentrate in class the next day. I was spending every waking moment trying not to dose off. Content absorbed from the lessons: zilch. Matthew Walker (Professor of neuroscience and psychology) conducted an experiment with 2 groups of people. One group had 8 hours of sleep, whilst the other group pulled an all-nighter. The next day an MRI scan was undertaken by both groups, revealing that the group that pulled an all-nighter absorbed 40% less information than the group with 8 hours of sleep. This is a staggering deficit for only 1 night. Now imagine countless school days operating on minimal sleep. Borderline criminal. Moral of the story kids, if you want straight As you must put in the work. By work, I am referring to getting your nightly 8 hours, although revision may also play some role in exam performance. But that is not the title of the article though, is it?
We live in a world where vaccines are more sought over than pizza. Pizza, really? Nonetheless, the pandemic has shone a newfound light on improving our immune systems. Well, there is no better way to turbocharge your immune system than with sleep. 4 hours of sleep can reduce immune cell activity by 70%. That is mind-blowing. A concerning state of immune deficiency if you will. Neurologists are now finding a strong correlation between a lack of sleep, and the development of various cancers. The link between the 2 is so strong that the World Health Organisation has classed any form of night-time shift work as a probable carcinogen. Who knew that getting that extra hour of sleep could do such good for your health?
Now you may be “quaking in your boots” at the thought of a lack of sleep doing so much harm to your wellbeing. You may be wondering how to improve the quality of your sleep. Well, your wish is my command. Step one is regularity. Establishing a sleeping pattern is essential. Simply waking up and going to bed at the same time is powerful. I know it may be tempting to slack on the weekends and watch that Netflix series you have been meaning to watch but did not manage to get round to over the week, but don’t. Secondly, ever found it damn near impossible to sleep on holiday when the temperature is up, needed to strip off all your layers to merely get in the zone. This is because your body needs to drop its core temperature by 2-3˚F to initiate sleep. Thus my second tip is to make sure your environment is cool enough to sleep in.
I am going to round off with a quote from Matthew Walker, “Sleep is the greatest performance-enhancing drug that not enough athletes are abusing.”I would like to challenge everyone reading this to try and squeeze in an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Despite not seeming like a lot, the effects on your health will be game-changing.
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