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🔋Recharge your optimism with this...


Science is beginning to uncover the ways in which the wellness pillar SLEEP brightens our outlook, helps us CONNECT with others, and, ultimately, makes us human. Sleep is the first ingredient in the wellness formula, affecting everything you do. Therefore this edition of The 5-Minute Recharge is going to try to lure you to sleep, but first…

🙏Thank you Louise Chambers for being first to respond to last week’s request for help. Your signed copy of Move the Body Heal the Mind is en route to your doorstep.

1. 😴 Tired and selfish

A sleepy person’s to-do list

New research out of the University of California, Berkeley has found that SLEEPlessness affects our ability to CONNECT.

  • MRI scans of sleep-deprived people reveal less activity in empathy-related parts of the brain.

  • When the clocks jump forward, philanthropy takes a step back: charitable giving drops 10 percent after the beginning of Daylight Saving Time (Don’t get me going on this senseless twice-per-year exercise in body clock manipulation!)

  • An earlier study showed that sleep deprivation caused people to socially withdraw and increased their feelings of loneliness.

Why it matters: When we don’t get enough sleep, we are less able to read other people’s emotions and understand their wants and needs. If others are in pain or need help, the sleep-deprived are less likely to respond to their signals of distress.

“This new work demonstrates that a lack of sleep not only damages the health of an individual, but degrades social interactions between individuals and, furthermore, degrades the very fabric of human society itself,” said UC Berkeley psychology professor Matthew Walker.

2. A Tired person is a Downer ☹️

Photo from Debbie Downer’s Wikipedia entry: Debbie Downer became a slang phrase to describe a pessimistic (likely sleep-deprived) person who frequently adds bad news and negative feelings to a gathering, thus bringing down the mood of everyone around them.

Surprising fact from Oxford Professor of Circadian Science, Russell Foster: “The tired brain remembers negative experiences, but forgets the positive ones.”

Why it matters: Tired people’s view of the world is clouded by negativity, affecting their outlook, influencing their decisions, and infecting others with their downer vibes.

3. 🌃 Lessons in sleeplessness from the night shift

Effects associated with SCRD (Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Disruption) discussed in the book Life Time: Your Body Clock and Its Essential Roles in Good Health and Sleep by Russell Foster The Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and President George H.W. Bush throwing up on himself and the Japanese Prime Minister. 🤮 All are events linked to sleep deprivation. Did you know hat the World Health Organization considers night shift work to be a probable carcinogen? It’s true. Blame lack of sleep’s negative effects on the immune system. Night shift workers also have a higher risk of divorce, road accidents, and premature death. A chronic lack of sleep also affects cognition:

  • A study of over 3,000 people found that those who did shift work for 10 or more years had much lower overall cognitive and memory levels than those who never worked the night shift.

  • Another study that looked at female flight attendants who frequently crossed multiple time zones with little recovery time found that they had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, significantly smaller temporal lobes (the brain area associated with language and memory) along with greater cognitive impairment and slower reaction times than flight attendants with less demanding schedules.

The problem is that shift workers work when they should be asleep and sleep when their biology is prepared to be awake. They are quite literally working against their bodies. Nearly all—97 percent!—of night shift workers remain synchronized to daytime.

  • This is directly related to light exposure.

  • Typically shift workers work in light of 100-400 lux (a measure of light intensity) and after their shift is over, are exposed to natural light that at dawn is 2,000-4,000 lux (it can be as much as 100,000 lux at noon). The intensity of natural light shifts their body clock to daytime.

  • The only way to become truly nocturnal is to work under extremely bright lights at night then shift to darkness during the daytime without any exposure to natural light. Most shift workers can’t do this.

But what does this mean for the rest of us who aren’t working the graveyard shift or transcontinental flights? We need to set our biological clocks each morning with 5-10 minutes of exposure to unfiltered natural light within 30 minutes of waking, and minimize the light intensity that surrounds us at night. Hold on, there’s more: besides light, we need to manage what we allow to enter our minds before bed...

  • Avoid anything that triggers alertness such as bad news on social media, vigorous physical activity, intense discussions with friends or family, and conversation pillows.

The final word on SLEEP goes to sleep scientist Eti Ben Simmon.

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