Functional Medicine: Sleep Deprivation
Research is showing exactly this and the data is damming. A study, from the aptly named Sleep Journal, in 2009, showed that if we induce sleep deprivation each night over two weeks, our body will try to make up for this deficit the next day by cleverly getting to us to snack, kidding our brains that we need a sugar fix to compensate, about 200 calories more to be exact. This study defined sleep deprivation as 5.5hrs sleep a night. Sound familiar?
Here’s the kicker from the study: If you do the maths over the year it equates to almost 21lbs of potential increased weight. I’m convinced this is why most executives struggle with losing weight even with calorie restricted diets, lots of exercise and all the medical testing money can buy. The CEOs with their personal trainers and nutritionists get increasingly foxed about the lack of weight loss and health improvement, becoming more drastic with their measures, ultimately leading to illness and reduced productivity. It’s no one’s fault of course but in future it is best to remember there is no comparison to the king of restoration, weight loss and anti- ageing that is sleep.
Most of us do not sleep more because the current culture does not allow it. This antiquated view, that I can sleep when I’m dead, or I’ll be happy when I have made it, does not hold up either in my experience or in the science. Times are changing. Management journals are increasingly showing that organisations who are committed to the development of wellness over time do far better on the stock market than those who do not. It would be foolish then not to invest into wellness strategies and the development of wellness culture (that’s for another time).
Here are four ways to get the sleep message out to organisations:
- Make the decision makers aware that over time they are making an investment into their people which makes them money.
- The Board need to buy in to wellness culture change, otherwise it’s just a tick box procedure that develops no traction. The Board needs to give permission to its employees and encourage from the top.
- Most are not aware of the science and so teaching employees about sleep and giving them “Sleep Hygiene” strategy’s is a must. It takes very little investment for huge returns.
- Practise getting the message out. Messages about sleep should be continually repeated. Repetition of message works, it helps to build a culture of health by repeating what’s good for us. Practise may not make perfect but it will make it more permanent.
Just one hour more sleep per night will make you a healthier person but also a more efficient employee or CEO. It’s not rocket science. The rocket science is being able to translate this message to an individual who is engrained into a business culture which still sees more as better (even though they get less done and are less creative). Fortunately new science is allowing us to objectively disprove old belief systems of working.