"Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive
themselves of sleep for no apparent gain.”
- Matthew Walker, sleep scientist
Despite being told for years to do it, most of us don’t get 8 hours of sleep every night. We try, but decide we can “get by” without it and continue to prioritize other things. The health effects of sleep deprivation are more significant than we realize, though. Matthew Walker, director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the UC Berkeley, tells NPR that “every disease that is killing us in developed nations has causal and significant links to a lack of sleep.” We forget that sleep serves as the foundation for everything we do. If we aren’t fully rested and restored, we will not be able to live or perform at optimal or even baseline levels. And without proper shut-eye, we will not be able to achieve our health goals.
This is why one of the first things I have clients do is examine their sleep – not the cycles of it but the routines around it. These habits affect and shape our other habits. For an example, let’s say you have no energy in the morning to exercise. Or every afternoon you find yourself rummaging in the office snack drawer. Instead of accepting that you are “not a morning person” or that you are hungry everyday at 3pm, first determine if you are just tired. When we are tired, our bodies both conserve energy and seek it out in other places.
Our sleep tonight underpins everything we do tomorrow. Before you identify which bad habits you want to change, first understand why you are doing them. Insufficient sleep could be the answer.