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Is Sleep a Need?

We start with the base components of Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs; the most basic level, physiological. Food, water, shelter and sleep. Russell Foster focuses on sleep in his TED Talk, “Why do we sleep?”. While there are an endless number of explanations for this question, Foster gives great points to support just a few.

What really hit home with me is that some genes are ONLY turned on during sleep. This means that when we make the decision to stay up another hour to finish a project or see friends, we are depriving these genes the chance to ever take the stage. The synaptic connections used for creativity and problem-solving form so strongly during a period of sleep. Without sleep, we lose that and other synaptic connections hog the strength.

In regards to nutrition, sleep deprivation will trigger the release of ghrelin. What’s this mean? Hunger hormones flood the body and are responsible for this ridiculous empty-caloried carbohydrate cravings you have.

Foster made a point in his discussion on sleep that made me stop and think. Sleep is not honored in the way it once was. He recites quotes from Edison and Shakespeare who refer to sleep as something to be cherished; something of high value. Fast forward to now and think about the schedules and priorities of you and your peers. How high on the list is sleep?

We often push sleep to the backburner, because of the hectic lives we live. With not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you want, you cut from somewhere. Your priorities probably include loved ones, work, fitness, passions, whatever it may be – but stop and think about if you’ve made sleep one of those.

Give your body that appreciate and care it needs. Remind yourself that without that time to shut down everything else and allow restoration, your cutting yourself short on your true potential.

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

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