The sci­ence of the per­fect night’s sleep

Business First - - NEWS -

Good de­ci­sions, pro­duc­tiv­ity and team­work are all hin­dered by ex­haus­tion. The cost to our de­vel­op­ment, lives, health and pro­duc­tiv­ity is enor­mous.

“Many stud­ies re­veal the sig­nif­i­cant cost of em­ployee pre­sen­teeism (re­duced pro­duc­tiv­ity due to at­tend­ing work while phys­i­cally or men­tally un­well). A re­cent study based on Aus­tralian work­ers shows the as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween poor sleep qual­ity and quan­tity with higher pre­sen­teeism,” says Stu­art Tay­lor, Founder of The Re­silience In­sti­tute Aus­tralia.

Co­or­di­na­tion, at­ten­tion, de­ci­sion mak­ing and im­pulse con­trol all suf­fer, while car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk, blood pres­sure, meta­bolic dis­or­ders (obe­sity and di­a­betes) and im­mune sys­tem dys­func­tion in­crease.

The Re­silience In­sti­tute re­cently re­leased the find­ings of a three-year study mea­sur­ing the re­silience of 16,000 peo­ple across 250 or­gan­i­sa­tions. 43.3% of all re­spon­dents ranked highly on ques­tions re­lat­ing to tired­ness and fa­tigue.

“Sleep and rest are vi­tal to our health and well­be­ing. Tech­nol­ogy among other fac­tors, has dis­rupted our body clocks and the first step to get­ting a good night’s sleep, is un­der­stand­ing the sci­ence be­hind it,” says Tay­lor.

Sleep is sub­ject to bi­o­log­i­cal clocks; our cir­ca­dian rhythm is a 24.5 hour cy­cle built into the suprachi­as­matic nu­cleus (SCN). Sit­ting just be­hind the eyes, this clock is paced and reg­u­lated by light, in par­tic­u­lar, re­quir­ing blue light in the early hours of the day to ef­fec­tively re-set.

Upon wak­ing, our body tem­per­a­ture rises, cor­ti­sol is re­leased, blood pres­sure rises, testos­terone peaks and we are alert, co­or­di­nated and ef­fec­tive. Dur­ing the day, we build up adeno­sine which in high lev­els in­creases our propen­sity for sleep. The longer we are alert, the deeper our delta-wave sleep. Af­ter 7pm our body tem­per­a­ture drops, at 9pm me­la­tonin se­cre­tion be­gins and we drop into a deep sleep some­where be­tween 10pm and 2am. Growth hor­mone is ac­tive dur­ing this stage, fa­cil­i­tat­ing re­pair, growth and im­mu­nity.

A good night’s sleep re­ju­ve­nates our cells, builds mus­cle and re­pairs the brain, while REM sleep (dream­ing) is es­sen­tial to mem­ory and emo­tional in­tel­li­gence.

Our suf­fer­ing to­day is largely due to a dis­rupted cir­ca­dian rhythm. We are per­pet­u­ally desyn­chro­nised by ar­ti­fi­cial light, heat­ing, elec­tron­ics and sleep debt. We are not ex­posed to ad­e­quate blue light in the early part of the day.

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