Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

By Balance Festival Team | Natalie Blow
Nov 19, 2018
Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

‘Sleep is the gold chain that ties health and our bodies together'
- Thomas Dekker


Alarm clocks. Everyday they unforgivingly shake us from our single most important behavioral experience - sleeping. It’s estimated that an average person spends 36% of their life asleep (1), which means if somebody lives until they’re 90 years old, they will spend 32 years of their entire life asleep. This shows just how biologically important sleep is to us humans.
In today’s acceleration societies, sleep has become secondary to pretty much everything: our careers, work deadlines, social lives and general day-to-day living. Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb in 1879 marked the birth of electricity, and the death of our healthy relationship with sleep. Today we have become a society that is hugely sleep-deprived. According to Fit Bit, their average users sneak in 6 hours 38 minutes of sleep each night.
But, “If you don’t sleep, you don’t fly.”(2) Essentially, the more we sleep, the more we get done – a paradox most business-heads would struggle to get their overtly pro-active brains around. Not only does a better night’s sleep increase our performance, but so to our mood, weight-regulation and social intervention.
Do you want to begin taking your sleep more seriously? Read on.
Why Do We Sleep?
Scientists have floated many hypotheses on why we need sleep, and here are the most common ones:

Restoration - Sleeping is a time for some serious rest. Neuroscientist Russel Foster explains that during our resting hours “a whole raft of genes (that are usually turned off) are turned on…these genes are associated with restoration and metabolic pathways.”(3) This means our bodies have the chance to replace chemicals and repair muscles, other tissues and aging or dead cells. Growth hormones are also released during a deep sleep. Although we have all this scientific-based information filed on the restorative benefits of sleep, we still haven’t quite joined the dots. Sometimes, ‘It can feel like an insult to our rational, adult dignity to think that our sense of gloom might stem from exhaustion. We’d sooner identify ourselves as being up against it or having a socio-existential crisis instead.”(4) The first step to getting better sleep, is about releasing just how crucial rest is not only for our brain function, but our physical body, growth and mood-regulation.
Energy Conservation - Because we save calories in our sleep, most people tend to think that by sleeping even longer they will become even skinnier – wrong. Although we do sleep to save calories, we actually only save on average a maximum of 101 calories in our sleep. But what really matters about getting a good night’s sleep, is the less Grehlin hormone we produce. When we don’t sleep enough, our body released a hormone called Grehlin. Increased levels of grehlin are responsible for increased appetite. New Scientists suggests that, “ …just one sleepless night may be enough to make your body start storing extra fat and breaking down muscle.” (5) It has also been scientifically proven, that staying awake all night can change the genes in fat tissues that are linked with obesity and Type 2 diabetes.(6)

Brain Function - Imagine being a brain, and receiving a non-stop overload of external stimuli during the waking hours – pretty exhaustive, right? During our sleep, our brains can take the time needed to reorder without its usual distractions. Important neural connections in the brain are connected and strengthened - it’s a chance to exercise important neural connections that might otherwise deteriorate due to lack of activity. It’s been estimated that sleep helps the brain come up with novel solutions to complex problems, with threefold the advantage. It also enhances our creativity, organizing information and archives our memories safely.
Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

 (Credit: Business Insider)

Interested by this topic and want to hear more? Be a part of the Festival line-up curation, and let us know! 
  1. Russel Forster – TED Talk:
  2. Russel Forster – TED Talk:
  3. Russel Forster – TED Talk:
  4. The School of Life -

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