A Guide to Insomnia and How to Deal With It

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Oct 3, 2018
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I recently set about changing many of my unhealthy habits about life. I realized that my habit of getting 4-5 hours of sleep was really having a severe effect on me. I learned these 11 things:
  1. Keep in mind that sleeping as little as 4 hours can have as much effect on your brain and sleeping zero hours. Humans are notorious for our inability to recognize this weakness when we are missing sleep.
  2. 17 hours of sleep deprivation is equivalent to being drunk in terms of cognitive performance (link).
  3. Did you know your ability to perform actually decreases with how long you’re awake?
  4. Ten days of sleeping 6 hours a night is equivalent to having a night with no sleep according to brain function.
  5. Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Heart (sleep foundation research).
  6. Long nights cause a detrimental effect on your cancer-fighting cells: a study was done (Michael Irwin, University of California) where 70% of the cancer-fighting cells were reduced from a 4 hour night of sleep.
  7. Sleep deprivation increases your calorie intake and reduces your calorie burn.
    1. Consider this: when living on a reduced calorie diet get your sleep! A study was done on two groups — both on a low-calorie diet — but one group only got 5.5 hours of sleep vs. 8 hours of sleep. They both lost weight, but the 5.5 hours of sleep group lost 70% from muscle mass! The full sleeping group lost as much as 50% of their weight from body fat.
  8. Sleeping less is associated with shorter telomeres: the end cap of our chromosomes that protect the cells. They are associated with faster aging if they are shorter, (i.e. people with less sleep have shorter telomeres and people with shorter telomeres age biologically faster, but it is unclear which is causal) — but given the sheer amount of evidence against sleep deprivation, I strongly recommend you get your 7-9 hours of sleep.
  9. A study by Prather injected people who slept fully and people who had been sleep deprived with a strain of the common cold: the chance is up of getting sick as much as 50% if you sleep 5 hours vs. 8.
  10. Adults who sleep 6 hours a night vs ones that sleep 8 hours a night have a 200% increased risk of heart attack or stroke in their lifetime. This is increasingly important as you approach mid-life.
  11. When you are sleep deprived, you crave more sweets, heavy carbohydrate foods, and salty snacks by 30-40% (Van Cauter).
They were really interesting to me, so it lead me to building a whole article around insomnia and how to deal with it. I'd love the community's thoughts on it:
Guide to Insomnia