I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

health self care sleep Nov 01, 2021

How many of you, in an attempt to take in everything life has to offer, have ever used the phrase – I’ll sleep when I’m dead? In honor of the end of Daylight Saving Time this weekend, yes it’s time to turn the clocks back, I wanted to share my take on the importance of sleep.

I have always been one to make sure that I get my minimum 8 hours of sleep during the night. I was not a night owl growing up. Always to bed between 10-10:30pm. I was always amazed at my friends that were able to stay up late enough on Saturdays to watch Saturday Night Live. I can remember many attempts only to wake up on the sofa having missed the whole episode and longing to be curled up in my nice, warm bed.

What my experience has shown me is that when I don’t get enough sleep my attitude sucks! I’m not a happy person to be around. I’ve also noticed that when I’ve had to force myself to have a stretch of nights where I get less than 8 hours of sleep, I usually end up with a cold. This was quite common when I was in college and post graduate school. And don’t get me started on the nights of fitful sleep when I wouldn’t be able to turn my brain off. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I would start to go through my list of worries: tomorrow’s exam, student loan application deadlines, getting home for Christmas, getting my car fixed, and on, and on. Can anyone relate?

Well, low and behold, what I was experiencing has proven to have scientific evidence behind it. It can even be argued that losing one hour of sleep in a night can cause a significant increase in the possibility of experiencing a heart attack, being in a car crash, or committing suicide. Each year in the spring when we lose an hour of sleep by setting our clocks ahead, statistics show a 24% increase in the number of cases of heart attacks that show up in the emergency rooms. And there are also increases in the number of car accidents and suicides. On the flip side of that, in the fall when we get to gain an hour of sleep, they see a 21% decrease in the number of heart attacks. Car accidents and suicides go down as well. I find that amazing.

Studies have shown that when a person gets 6 hours or less of sleep each night it can start to change their genetic makeup. Yep, you heard that right. And by changing your genetic makeup you are allowing certain sequences to be turned on and other sequences to be turned off. Just like flipping a light switch. Unfortunately, the sequences being turned on have to do with tumor growth, inflammation, and heart disease. The sequences being turned off have to do with your immune system. Yikes!

There is so much more information out there regarding sleep. I’ve only touch on a few items of interest. But hopefully, you have a better understanding of how important it is to your health to get good quality sleep every night.

You can Google sleep and get all kinds of ideas on how to improve your sleep. I will leave you with one simple thing you can begin doing today to improve your sleep quality and quantity and that is to establish a routine. It doesn’t matter if it is a weekday or weekend have a specific time to head to bed and have a specific time to wake up. By doing that one thing you will be moving yourself in the direction of better health. Enjoy your extra sleep time this weekend. Sleep well.

The statistics used in this blog came from studies reported by Matthew Walker, PhD – University of California, Berkeley

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