To Sleep or not to Sleep?

Seeing that I’ve always been a big fan of sleep, I can now gladly put an end to the contradictory idea

of ‘sleep less to get more work done’. Better sleep will help gain more effective hours when your

awake to pump out more quality work.


In a recent TED Talks, a well known scientist and ‘sleep doctor’ even claimed that men that

experiences 5 hrs sleep compared to their buddies who experiences 7 hrs, have smaller testicles and

testosterone levels of men that are 10 yrs older. The testosterone claim seems to be somewhat

supported by a research paper in 2011[1].


To improve immunity, cognitive function, lifespan, and dietary habits, we need about 7-9 hours

sleep every night. Let me expand on this.


Natural killer cells impacts our body’s responsiveness to viral infection and cancer[2]. Prolonged and

severe sleep deprivation reduces the natural killer cell number up to 29% and also it’s activity[3].

The saying “sleep on a problem” is scientifically true. The great inventor Thomas Edison was a well

known power-napper, Albert Einstein slept for 10 hours per night and took naps during the day.

Perhaps they knew sleep enhances skill learning by 20% and like a save button, in REM sleep, our

brain will also process that information, and like a save button, transfer those skills into automaticity

so we can become masters of that skill. While on the other hand, even partial sleep deprivation can

reduce our ability to learn new information by 40%. [4]


Just 1 night of partial or total sleep deprivation will send our body into pre-diabetic state [5]. Beta

cells become less sensitive to glucose, and releases less insulin. Leptin and Ghrelin are two hero

hormones in your biohacking journey. Insufficient sleep causes a reduction in leptin which signals to

your brain that you are now less satisfied and hungry. Sleep deprivation also drives an increase in

Ghrelin which tells your body that you are hungry. Sadly, a double whammy effect.


We tend to go for more junk food during the day when we experience sleep deprivation. In deep

stages of sleep however, we burn more fat [6].


Tips to achieve more effective sleep


- Establish a more regular time to go to bed. Having trouble falling asleep can mean that your

brain has associated a certain place or activity as a wakeful place. Try to change your

environment or the activities you do before sleep can help the mind to disassociate the habit

and wakefulness.


- Light help regulate our circadian clock. Artificial lights such as television, mobile/tablet

devices and even some normal room lighting can delay your bedtime cycle by 2 hours [7].

The USA based sleep foundation have medical experts from various fields of study suggest

that keeping the environment dark, blocking even moonlight is ideal during sleep.


- Around 18 o C Celsius is the best sleep temperature for most people. Too hot is less ideal than

too cold. Warming hands and feet as cold extremities can send wrong signals to your brain

that the whole body is cold.


- Do your best not to not use sedatives such as alcohol, street marijuana, and pharmaceutical

drugs like Diazepam. These compounds reduce the effectiveness of various stages of sleep.

For example, alcohol and street marijuana disrupts RAM sleep[8].


- Practice it more. Heard of the saying ‘the more you sleep, the more you sleep’?


References:


1. Rachel Leproult and Eve Van Cauter. Effect of 1 Week Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in

Young Healthy Men. 2011 Jun 1; JAMA. 2011;305(21):2173-2174.

2. Kerry S Campbell & Amanda K Purdy. Structure/function of human killer cell immunoglobulin-like

receptors: lessons from polymorphisms, evolution, crystal structures and mutations. British Society

for Immunology. 2011 Mar; 132(3): 315–325.

3. Elizabeth G. Ibarra-Coronado1, Javier Velazquéz-Moctezuma2, Daniel Diaz3, Luis Enrique Becerril-

Villanueva4, Lenin Pavón4 and Jorge Morales-Montor. Sleep Deprivation Induces Changes in

Immunity. International Journal of Biological Sciences 2015; 11(8).

4. D.A. Chernik. Effect of Rem Sleep Deprivation on Learning and Recall by Humans. University of

Chicago. Published in PubMed. 1972 Feb; Volume: 34 issue: 1, page(s): 283-294.

5. H. Klar Yaggi, Andre B. Araujo, and John B. McKinlay. Sleep Duration as a Risk Factor for the

Development of Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care 2006 Mar; 29(3): 657-661.

6. Woodson Merrell M.D., Sleep More, Burn More Fat: Just three extra hours of sleep burned 400

more calories. Psychology Today 2010; Oct 14.

7. Christine Blume, Corrado Garbazza, and Manuel Spitschan. Effects of light on human circadian

rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie (Berlin); Aug 2019; 23(3): 147–156.

8. Sleep Foundation USA. The Connection Between Sleep and Overeating. 2020 July 28.

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