If you’re living by the saying ‘Sleep when you’re dead’ you may be falling into a long deep slumber quicker than you’d like. Put simply, Berkley University sleep expert Matthew Walker says, “Short sleep predicts a shorter life”. Studies show that just about every possible disease becomes both more likely and more serious in the absence of adequate sleep.
The main message is that every single organ in the body – and in fact every single cell in the body – stops functioning properly if you don’t get adequate sleep,” says Professor Danny Eckert, director of the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health at Flinders University. “Every part of the body is affected.”
If you take an average 20-year-old man and restrict his sleep to 5 hours a night for 5 nights in a row, he will be in a pre-diabetic state. Measure his testosterone and it’s as though he’s aged at least a decade.
Miss a nights sleep and your functioning with the equivalent blood alcohol reading of 0.1, meaning you really shouldn’t be driving a car or making important decisions.
A mounting body of research is also starting to point to the causal link between sleep problems and serious mental health disorders.
Science is clear that almost all adults need between 7 and 9 hours sleep. Matthew Walker says, “Based on the science, the number of people in the world who can survive on less than six hours’ sleep without impairment is zero.”
When I first came to learn Vedic Meditation, I was experiencing regular bouts of insomnia. Since becoming a teacher I’ve taught countless students with either chronic or intermittent insomnia. From my own experience and what I’ve witnessed time and time again with my students, meditation is the best thing you can do to restore healthy sleep patterns.
Insomnia is essentially caused by a mind/body system that’s out of balance. The technical rm is ‘hyperstimulation’ – our brains kicking into a fight or flight response, preventing us from falling asleep or waking us during the night.
With a regular meditation practice, we calm the mind, shifting us into the para-sympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest state) and over time our sleep patterns begin to normalise.
Furthermore, each time we meditate, we’re providing the body with additional deep rest. One study suggests that 20 minutes meditation provides the equivalent body rest of around 90 minutes of sleep.
If you’re struggling with sleep, meditation could be just what you’re looking for.
And there are other techniques and tips to get a good night’s rest which we’ll share in the next post.
Marcus and Cass x