Matthew Walker is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. His new book is “Why We Sleep.” Matthew’s mission is to reunite humanity with sleep.
How did Matthew begin studying sleep? He learned insufficient sleep is linked to ALL of the top killers in civilized countries. The average adult only sleeps 6 hours and 31 minutes. The disease and suffering that is present because of lack of sleep has become his motivator to instill change. So how much sleep do we need? If you are not getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep a day, you are not acting at optimal performance. Most who think they can operate at full capacity with 6 hours of sleep have become numb to the state they live in. They have forgotten, or perhaps have never known, what their optimal performance looks and feels like.
Insufficient sleep is shown to lead to disease, cancer, mutating your DNA, and Alzheimer’s. Not only does lack of sleep hurt you in the long-term, it also has many short-term effects as well. When you are sleep deprived your brain is 40% less able to retain information. Some have legitimate sleep disorders, however 90-95% of people can change their sleep habits.
How can we help change our quality of sleep? Turn off the technology at night. Lights from the T.V., iPad, phone, etc. sends all the wrong signals to your brain. Melatonin does not get released at the time it should get released. Any kind of light is problematic within the last hour or so of when you should be getting ready for bed. Light, sleep procrastination and anticipatory anxiety are the three biggest problems related to too much technology before bed.
Aiding sleep with drugs or alcohol is a common misnomer. When you sleep with the aid of alcohol or sleeping pills they inhibit your ability to hit your REM cycle. The same is true for marijuana. These are methods of sedation, not actual sleep. Studies show that sleeping pills are associated with death and cancer. More specifically, you are 3-4 times more likely to die across a 2 ½ year period when taking sleeping pills, than those who do not taking sleeping pills. Michael and Matthew end the conversation breaking apart start times of schools and how crucial starting an hour or two later is to a student and their quality of learning.