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Catching Z's: The Ultimate Guide to Paying Off Your Sleep Debt
IF Insider No. 75
In our last issue (IF Insider No. 74), we looked at the “dirty dozen,” a list of twelve foods you should always try to buy organically, as well as the “clean 15",” meaning those fruits and vegetables that you can safely eat, even if they are not organically grown.
For our premium subscribers, in this week’s Research Spotlight, we are examining a recent study that sounds the alarm on added sugar’s negative health effects. In fact, this new study found evidence of an incredible 45 different negative health outcomes. We will be detailing new sugar consumption guidelines (and not just table sugar!) in this Spotlight.
Our paid subscribers also get one of Ellen’s recipes each month. We recently featured how Ellen uses plant-based sausages to make a flavorful and delicious red sauce-infused pasta with Ellen’s Impossible Pasta recipe.
Looking for a supportive group that “gets” your interest in IF and other cutting-edge health information? Our free intermittent fasting Facebook group, with over 1800 members, is a wealth of info, in addition to our new Longevity Experience membership.
Sleep Investment 101: Smart Strategies to Overcome Sleep Debt
There is no shortage of advice out there about how important it is not to get into debt and if you are in debt to start to get out of it. Well-known radio show host and author Dave Ramsey has built his whole career and, ironically has made a fortune advising people how to get out of debt.
But financial debt is not the kind of debt we are talking about. In this issue of the IF Insider, we are going to talk about a type of debt that has serious implications, not necessarily on your pocketbook, but on your health, both physical and emotional.
So what kind of debt am I talking about?
Sleep debt and here in the U.S. at least, we are in serious trouble. In a recent IF Insider (Issue No. 73) we looked at the concept of restorative rest and how you can get the deeper sleep research is now showing to be crucial for your health.
But what are the consequences of getting too few hours of sleep or even missing a few nights altogether? First of all, the good folks over at the National Sleep Foundation say we need, on average, about 7.1 hours of sleep each and every night to feel good. And a full 73% of us are NOT getting that much, not just on one night, but all the time. Of course, we are all individuals and our sleep needs are different. Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep. Some people do well on six or less hours a night and some folks need nine hours or more to function at their best.
There are a variety of reasons why we don’t get enough sleep and among these are work and school responsibilities, caregiving responsibilities, which affect women particularly hard, and the use of electronic devices late into the evening which disrupts our normal Circadian rhythms to name just a few.
And we’ve talked before here at the Insider about why adequate sleep should not be viewed as a luxury but a necessity for good health. A chronic lack of sleep can weaken your immune system, put you at increased risk for type two diabetes, and lead to high blood pressure. Also, people who don’t get enough sleep generally have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and this can lead to bouts of depression, anger, and yes even suicidal thoughts.
Not to mention that if you are chronically sleep deprived, you are at real risk for having an accident while driving due to drowsiness. Literally, millions of drivers in the U.S. fall asleep behind the wheel every month and according to research published in the journal Sleep, about 15 percent of all fatal crashes involve a driver who was drowsy. Every year more than 6000 lives are lost in drowsy driving-related accidents in the U.S. That is a sobering and very awful statistic, so yes Houston we have a problem.
Ok so let’s get back to sleep debt. It helps to think of your sleep like a bank account. Every time you sleep you are putting hours into your account. But when you don’t get enough sleep, those hours are withdrawn and eventually they have to be repaid. This is not terribly hard to do if you have only lost a night or so. But if you have a chronic sleep debt, it’s much harder to become solvent.
We’ll talk about the best ways to pay off your sleep debt in just a minute, but first, let’s look at how sleep debt can actually translate into real money.
According to Modern Health editor Wayne Caswell, because of the well-documented effects of poor sleep, which contributes to decreased energy, anxiety, depression, being irritable, stressed out, having mood swings, getting into marital troubles, poor athletic and work performance, and a host of other health effects, the lifetime cost of poor sleep easily goes over $150,000 in accumulated net worth. And, he also noted that not getting enough sleep can, over time, cost you up to a whopping $300,000 in unnecessary medical expenses.
Let’s get to what you can do to pay off that sleep debt. If you ask the average person who works during the week and has the weekends off, they will likely tell you that you can just sleep in on the weekends (or whatever days you have off) to make up for your sleep debt. There’s just one problem with this approach. If you sleep in too long on Saturday and Sunday, it makes it really, really difficult to get to bed and to sleep on time on Sunday night and your deficit then goes over into the next week.
If you don’t have a chronic sleep debt and just need to catch up on a few hours, try taking a nap of about 20 minutes in the early afternoon. And yes, sleep on the weekends but don’t go more than two hours past the normal time you wake up.
If you have a chronic sleep debt, get to bed 15 minutes earlier each night till you are at your desired bedtime. Sleep no more than two hours past when you usually wake up, even on weekends, stop using electronics two full hours prior to bed, avoid naps longer than 20 minutes, and avoid late-day caffeine. Keep your bedroom dark and cool for optimum sleep. Don’t exercise too close to bedtime, no later than three hours before you go to bed. Keep liquid intake to a minimum in the late evening so you won’t be awakened by a full bladder.
If these don’t work, see your doctor to rule out an underlying sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
Why It Matters
“It is in your best interest to avoid sleep debt, otherwise be prepared to pay both the DEBT and the INTEREST!”
~ Stan Jacobs is the author of the 2016 book, The Dusk and Dawn Master: A Practical Guide to Transforming Evening and Morning Habits, Achieving Better Sleep, and Mastering Your Life.
What We Are Reading 📚
Denise - At a recent performance I attended, a reading by David Sedaris, he recommend Susan Orlean’s book On Animals. It’s a collection of stories about how we humans interact with animals and how they impact our lives. Some of the stories are from Orelean’s life and others are stories she’s researched and written over the year. All are a delight to read.
Ellen - I recently was doing research on a presentation for our Longevity Experience members on the vagus nerve, including various ways to stimulate it to improve your health. One of those ways is through sound, either producing it yourself, as in singing, humming, laughing or even gargling, or listening to specific types of sound.
In doing my preparation for my vagus nerve presentation, I came across scores of resources on YouTube…everything from Mongolian Throat Singing to Orthodox Christian chanting. One of the resources I especially enjoyed is this prolonged recording of Gregorian Chanting paired with the sound frequency 432HZ known as the Solfeggio Frequency or Earth Frequency:
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