How to boost your energy levels to new heights
Light and Darkness
In the times before we had the blessing of artificial light, most people knew that a good sleep will make for a better and longer life. In their works many of the great poets praise sleep as something wonderful. I have to admit however that the people didn’t have to many things they could do in total darkness, and light from candles was expensive and of terrible quality.
Today in times of fluorescent light, LED and always flickering TV screens shining constantly, we have to go a long way from civilization, before there is true darkness. We can derive from the light pollution in the night sky that today most of us partake in a constant struggle. We try to treat sleep as if it were a disease and fight to stay awake and “productive” up to the last minute of the day. By doing that we reduce the sleep we actually desperately need to the absolute minimum.
Scientists found out a long time ago how our body reacts when we deprive it of sleep. Most of us need at least eight hours of sleep regularly to reach and hold our peak physical and mental energy levels. Only about five percent can cope with less than eight hours and might still be able to function perfectly with about five hours of sleep. Sadly it doesn’t seem possible to train this but it rather seems to be a genetic trait.
The consequence is that most of us sleep way too little with only 6.5 hours on average. When we sleep even less than that, 6 hours and less, for an extended amount of time, our mental and physical abilities decline over two weeks in the same way as if we were intoxicated by alcohol (not legally allowed to drive). One sleepless night has the same effect for a shorter timeframe.
Why is this so? Scientists figured out a short while ago, that our brain uses an ingenious disposal system to transport waste substances away from our cells. All other organs in our body use simpler but a lot larger systems to get rid of waste products, while the brain uses the infrastructure already in place, the supply lines for oxygen and glucose. The cerebral fluid, in which our brain floats, transports the cell by-products away from the cells to the veins. There is only one problem; to work properly the system has to switch into a different mode: sleep mode.
Basically that means that when we deny our brain the rest, it is as if the waste collection service is on strike. Slowly but surely the waste starts to pile up until you can’t work properly anymore. The waste our brain cells produce piles up the same way and affects the brain in the same toxic manner alcohol would.
Do yourself a favor, sleep an hour longer and if you really want to push your brain energy levels to new heights, give it a quick pit stop by taking a midday nap (you have my permission to call it power napping 😉 ).