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Sleep. It makes you live longer.

First Lady of Sleep Lisa Mercurio examines the pros and cons of becoming a bit more focused on sleep.  Actually, you might just want to get a little bit obsessive.  After all, a longer life might be the end game!


Hanging around in sleep circles, there are a couple of lines that get thrown around on a regular basis.  One of them is, “Sleep.  You spend a third of your life doing it. You might as well make it good.”

Another is:  “Ehhh, there’s plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead.”

The two statements are obviously at odds with each other; one suggesting that getting a good night’s sleep is worth something and the other suggesting that it’s worth nothing, perhaps it’s even a waste of time.  “Sleep?  Why bother!”

But, if someone were to tell you that sleeping better and longer might actually mean a longer life, might you be inclined to do something about it?  Would you get involved, become invested in your own zzzs in such a way that you might even become competitive about it?  Might you pursue your sleep with a type A-plus personality vengeance, the same way you go after your cardiovascular health, nutritional concerns, psychological well-being and overall wellness?

The popularity of the self-quantitative movement which in our opinion is best represented by the spate of devices on the market like Jawbone UP, FitBit and even the formerly available trendsetting ZEO, suggest that people do care and that the SLEEP MOVEMENT is just beginning to take hold.   And, it’s about time because along with nutrition and fitness, sleep is also regarded as the third pillar of healthy living. 

As everyone close to me knows, I am a marathon runner.  This past weekend, a teammate waved his arm at me at our post-half marathon celebratory brunch in Philadelphia and said, “hey Lisa.  What do you think of this?”  He was pointing to a Jawbone UP wristband and what he was wondering about was the efficiency of the device.  Is it worth anything?  Will it help him become a better sleeper?  He said that it had already helped him to have an awareness of the quality and the quantity of his sleep, and to that end, he had begun to make some practical lifestyle adjustments.  For instance, he was going to sleep earlier and getting up earlier as well.  He was zeroing in on his magic sleep number (as in number of hours it takes to be truly rested) and overall, he was pleased with what he was learning.  As for its accuracy, well, that is a matter of opinion as these devices are worn on the wrist, NOT on the head where true sleep brain waves can be read and interpreted.  Are they worth something?  Most definitely, especially if what you are looking for is basic measurements and not necessarily medical specifics.

But perhaps the most important part of all of this has to do with the issue of sleep and paying attention to it, not just taking it for granted.  Just like a spouse, boyfriend, or other important relationship, if you ignore it, you might not understand why it disappears out from under you.  And, finally, if we were to tell you that sleeping well would ward off the likes of Alzheimers, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and a host of other ills, wouldn’t you invest a bit more in its importance to you and your lifestyle?  Well, the fact is, we are saying just that. 

Sleep a little. You might live longer.