There are three fundamental reasons why we sleep. One is we’ve recently discovered it helps to flush out plaques called beta amyloid plaques; it’s a build up of these plaques that is believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia. What we now know is that during the process of sleep, we flush out a lot of those plaques from the brain, therefore, staving off, or even reducing, or eliminating, the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. It’s certainly a principle to consider. Just by getting more sleep, we could mitigate the risks of early onset dementia, or Alzheimer’s later on in life.
The other components of sleep, a sleep cycle, is composed of light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. We know that light sleep is the sleep that cycles us through the other stages. Deep sleep is where we write data to the disk, it’s where we download everything that’s gone on in our brains in the day. REM sleep is where we sift through memories and learning, and consolidate all of that.
They both perform really important functions. I quite often talk to people about sleep, and you hear a lot of people saying that they’re great on six hours, they thrive no problem at all. However, it’s actually a tiny percentage of people that have this genetic variation, according to Matthew Walker (author of Why we sleep: The new science of sleep and dreams), who thrive on six hours sleep a night or less. In fact, if you rounded it up or down, it would be 0%. That’s how few of us have that genetic variation that allows us to thrive on six hours sleep or less. Most of us need between seven and eight hours sleep. Many of us aren’t getting that.
I hope that’s helpful. If you need anything, or if you’ve got questions on any of this, you can email me at [email protected].
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Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.