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What happens when you do not sleep? Moreover, why do we need to do it? This latest post will explain the science of sleep: the cause, the benefits, and why you need it more than you think.

We Are Sleeping Less Than Ever Before

You have heard it before: experts typically recommend seven to nine hours sleep for adults. Currently, 59% of U.S. adults meet that standard, but in 1942, 84% did. That means four in 10 Americans get less than the recommended amount of nightly sleep, compared with the 11% who did so 70 years ago.

Today, 20% of Americans say they do not get enough sleep. Furthermore, more than 200,000 car accidents each year are caused by sleepy drivers. Killing more people than drunk driving.

Fact: The need to sleep is one of the strongest biological urges we have. One of the few we can control.

Fact: You can die faster from sleep deprivation than food deprivation

Fact: The average person will sleep 1/3 of their life

Fact: The average person will spend 25 years of their life sleeping

Furthermore, there is no scientific reasoning to why we sleep. However, our Brain wants to sleep. It releases hormones (Cortisol) when the sun is out to keep us awake, and other hormones (Melatonin) when it is dark.

Why We Sleep

There are many theories out there, and no one theory claims to be the only one. The simple assumption is that they all contribute to why we sleep.

Fact: All mammals and birds sleep. Even most reptiles, fish, and insects exhibit some form of rest.

Theory: Sleeping and being still is a way to attract less attention. Moreover, in the wild, not getting eaten.

Another theory: Sleeping is a way to conserve energy needed for the daytime. Much like a mini hibernation.

Fact: Humans use about 10% less energy when they are sleeping when your heart rate, body heat, and breathing slow down.

Fact: When you sleep you heal, grow taller, and build muscle (repair tissue). 

Theory: Our brains need sleep to rest, re-organize, and rejuvenate or known as Brain Plasticity. Sleep allows the brain to replay the day full of activities and memories and then figures out a way to store them. It might be better to study the night before a test then goes to sleep rather then cram the night before.

As a leader, it may be wise to “sleep on it” before making a major decision. Your brain might need the opportunity to figure out all that you have observed.

Theory: Sleep, with Brain Plasticity, can help clear out all the excess junk from our brains that we do not need. For example, the color of the tie your boss was wearing yesterday or the type of car next to you at the signal on your way to work.

Don’t believe me? Go without one night of sleep and see what happens. It is not pretty. Like a walking Zombie or what one researcher has called it, “Emotional Jell-O.”

Can a lack of sleep kill you? Yes! Sleep is closely tied to your immune system. When you are sick, you sleep. Studies have shown that there is a significant decrease in anti-bodies (50%) with test subjects who are sleep deprived.

Want to be a better leader? Sleep.

Want to be a better athlete? Sleep.

Want to be a better student? Sleep.

Want to be a better human being who makes wise choices, is healthy, and smarter, who has big muscles? Sleep.