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Sleep is Good

Sleep is Good

OK please don't get sleepy but we're going to talk about sleep!

About a year or so ago I got an Oura ring, a "smart" ring that collects and analyzes sleep data (and exercise data -- it's really quite wonderful). I also read Matthew Walker's magisterial "Why We Sleep."

Can't resist this quote from the Walker book:

"Sleep is the Swiss army knife of health. When sleep is deficient, there is sickness and disease. And when sleep is abundant, there is vitality and health."

The ring and that book have jolted me wide awake; it's kind of hard to overstate how much sleep matters. It really matters.

Here's what I've learned gets me the best sleep scores (yes, the ring assigns a numerical value (0-100) according to how much time you spend in the deep sleep phase, REM phase, total hours slept, and many more data points):

  • You get roughly twice as much deep sleep from 9-12 as you do from the rest of the night. This is good! Max deep sleep is the goal.
  • You can't pay off "sleep debt" -- if you don't get enough during the week, you can't simply sleep more on weekends. Sad but true! Prioritize your eight hours if you can.
  • Light, all kinds of light, is a profound degrader of sleep -- cover up any electronic light, and get blackout curtains. The goal is total darkness.

Walker thinks that, today, we're where we were with smoking 50 years ago -- we had all of the science, but it's not yet adequately distributed out into public policy or even just public knowledge.

And then there's your bed, a place where we spend some 33 percent of our lives. If you're ever going to splurge, this is the place. You need a good bed and pillows! Your sleep health will skyrocket. Today's beds are vastly better than the beds of yesteryear.

Temperature is important, too -- all the sleep data points toward cooler sleeping is better sleeping. I run a little hot naturally, so I use a cooling pad on mine that keeps the temperature at a steady 63. It's incredible how sleep quality increases when you find your optimum temperature.

Please take sleep as seriously as you do with a nutrient-dense, whole-foods diet and plenty of daily movement. It really matters!