“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?”

I recently read the book Why We Sleep, written by Matthew Walker. As someone who has had sleep difficulties my whole life, this book scared the shit out of me. The negative effects of not sleeping 7-8 hours a night are horrific.

Negative effects of a lack of sleep:

  • Accidents
    • Fatigue causes 20% of of vehicle accidents
    • Exxon Valdez oil spill
    • Three-mile island and Chernobyl nuclear accidents
  • Health
    • Weakens immune system
    • Significantly increase odds of
      • Heart attack
      • High blood pressure
      • Stroke
      • Diabetes
    • Literally a carcinogen
    • Closely linked to ADHD (young people) / Alzheimers (old people)
  • Performance
    • Impairs attention, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving
    • Reduces ability to control emotions or empathize with others
    • Reduces sex drive
    • Weight gain
  • Depression - People with insomnia were 5 times more likely to develop depression

The basic conclusion here is if you don't get enough sleep, you stupid.


Caffeine and Alcohol

Why We Sleep had some interesting things to say about the substance that gets most of the world through their day. The half life of caffeine is 5 to 7 hours. Which basically means you shouldn't drink coffee after 10am. Also, it described an experiment where they gave spiders various psychoactive drugs:

Caffeinated Spider

I don't know what this means for us, but caffeine jacked those spiders up.

Alcohol, apparently the most commonly used sleep aid, also has some devastating effects of the sleep cycle. You can read more about that here.

If you read one book this year, I'd suggest Why We Sleep.

How I Sleep

As I stated, I am a former insomniac. I had severe issues falling asleep. I would generally get into bed late and only sleep 4-6 hours a night.

These are the changes I made to sleep better:

  1. Completely block out bedroom windows
  2. Remove any light generating devices from bedroom
  3. Get off electronics 1 hour before bed, or use night mode
  4. Go to bed at the same time every night
  5. No caffeine after 10am
  6. Cut down on alcohol consumption, especially in the evenings

I also use a few sleep aides:

  1. Magnesium Glycinate - I believe this is really what made the difference. Before I started supplementing magnesium, I couldn't get tired. After taking magnesium for a week, my entire life changed - I began to get sleepy around the time I should. Obviously, you should talk to your doctor before trying this, but this supplement had an enormous impact on me. There are other benefits as well: reduced migraines, better mood, reduced anxiety.
  2. Neuro-sleep - I jokingly refer to this as sleep juice, and it takes about 30 minutes before it kicks in. For some reason this works better for me then pill based melatonin. It always works and can be used multiple nights in a row without any side effects.