According to Professor Matthew Walker, sleep deprivation is not taken seriously enough in modern society. He says that it is killing people, because the less you sleep, the less you live.
Walker is the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, whose aim is to understand everything about sleeping and its impact on every aspect of people’s lives, from birth to death. He urges people to sleep eight hours a night or more to avoid diseases such as cancer, obesity, diabetes and the Alzheimer’s disease.
“No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation,” Walker said.“It sinks down into every possible nook and cranny. And yet no one is doing anything about it. Things have to change: in the workplace and our communities, our homes and families.”
A time of catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic
About two-thirds of adults in developed nations don’t sleep the eight hours of sleep recommended by the World Health Organization. The truth is that it is pretty common to suffer from sleep deprivation in the modern days.
Professor Matthew Walker is a sleep scientist from the University of California. He has spent a part of his life trying to understand why people lack sleep and how sleep deprivation affects our lives and our organisms. More and more frequently, people go to him for advice as the difference between leisure and work is every time more blurred. He considerers that we are in the midst of a “catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic,” but he doesn’t have a lot of hopes. He even confessed that he started lying about his profession – saying that he is a dolphin trainer – to avoid being asked because he knows his strong convictions about sleep. Walker believes that the situation might only change for the better if the governments get involved.
Walker thinks that everything people do is linked to their sleep habits, and those who don’t sleep at least eight ours might live less and are prone to suffer terrible diseases such as cancer and dementia. He is the author of the upcoming book called “Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams.” He says that sleep became an obsession for him.
Lack of sleep is not a badge of honor
He considers that people sleep less nowadays because of industrialization and hectic work schedules. Due to those things, people are sleeping 6 hours or less a night.
“First, we electrified the night. Light is a profound degrader of our sleep. Second, there is the issue of work: not only the porous borders between when you start and finish but longer commuter times, too. No one wants to give up time with their family or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead,” Said Walker about why people are sleeping less.
Walkers explains there is a stigma around those who get to sleep eight hours a night because individuals who spent a lot of time in bed tend to be characterized as lazy. On the other hand, the ones who are constantly sleep-deprived tend to treat it like a “badge of honor” and don’t admit in public they need to have eight hours of sleep every night.
He also explained that anxiety is another important factor that is worsening the quality of sleep today if compared to other decades. He said that this society is lonelier and much more depressed. As well, he considered that now people have more access to what he called “enemies of sleep” such as caffeine and alcohol. The consumption of those was not as frequent in prior decades as it is now.
“We have stigmatized sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honor. When I give lectures, people will wait behind until there is no one around and then tell me quietly: ‘I seem to be one of those people who need eight or nine hours’ sleep.’ It’s embarrassing to say it in public. They would rather wait 45 minutes for the confessional. They’re convinced that they’re abnormal, and why wouldn’t they be?” stated Walker.
Humans are the only species that deprive themselves of sleep with no real reason
Walker admits that he is concerned about this situation because it is spreading all over the world. He said that humans are the only species in the animal kingdom that deprive themselves of sleep without a good reason. However, he remains the exception to the rule because he follows his own advice. Walker admitted he wouldn’t lose an eight-hour-sleep for anything. He goes to bed, and he wakes up at the same time every day, and he continues to recommend people to do the same. He said that even getting little sleep for just one might have consequences and increases the risks of having heart diseases and diabetes. He said people must stop with any form of “all-nighter.” Another thing people has to avoid entirely are the sleeping pills; walker highlighted that these type of medication deteriorates the memory. He also suggested that schools should start later and that there should be incentives for people at work to get a full night of sleep.
He said that even getting little sleep for just one night has consequences and increases the risks of having heart diseases and diabetes. He said people must stop all forms of “all-nighters.” Another thing people has to avoid completely are the sleeping pills; Walker highlighted that these type of medication deteriorates the memory. He also suggested that schools should start later and that there should be incentives for people at work to get a full night of sleep.
Source: The Guardian