The sleep loss epidemic is genuine. And it’s having a significant impact on society. A persistent lack of sleep can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep. Mother Nature took 3.6 million years to put this thing called 8 hours of sleep in homosapiens and we deprive ourselves of it for no good reason… it is an entirely man-made problem.
So what is the solution?
What then is the solution to those of us rendered zombies by a dire lack of sleep, if neither prescription or herbal drugs offer true rest? “If we had a good medication that produced naturalistic sleep I’d be very much in favour of it but we just don’t and have never had one.” Walker emphasises, “However, last year, the American College of Physicians made a landmark recommendation, suggesting that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBTI) must be used as the first line treatment for chronic insomnia, not sleeping pills.
[Professor Matthew Walker, a British neuroscientist and now director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley] is readily armed with a list of reasonable lifestyle changes we can make as individuals: a non negotiable bedtime, staving off alcohol and caffeine, a cool and dark bedroom which includes a moratorium on evening screen time and, most importantly, the ability to get out of bed when we just can’t sleep. “The worst thing you can do when you can’t sleep is to stay in bed, our brain is a completely associative device so the best thing is to just break the connection, go to another room and read until you are sleepy.”