How your sleep habits can lead to a longer life (Part 1)

Written by Alex Reid
Posted November 19, 2019

Dear Reader,

In this three-part series, let’s connect the dots between habits and health.

It’s vital that you listen up because most Americans don’t get enough sleep.

Whether the reason is work, binge-watching Netflix, or studying for an exam, the results are in: 35% of people in the U.S. don’t meet the recommended seven hours of sleep each night.

It hasn’t always been this way. In 1910, people got an average of nine hours of sleep. In the last century, the average has decreased by over two hours! And it continues to drop.

This is a HUGE problem…

Why? Because research links good sleeping habits to better health and a longer life

To top it off, the effects of sleep deprivation cost the United States $411 billion every single year. Just one extra hour could potentially add $200 billion to the U.S. economy. 

Why does getting the right amount of sleep make such a huge difference?

When you sleep, your body goes into repair mode. At night, your body repairs the damage done to your muscles, organs, and cells throughout the day. The chemicals that strengthen your immune system also circulate throughout the body while you are asleep. 

These healing processes take place primarily in a deep sleep, also known as sleep stages three and four. 

There are a total of five stages of sleep…

Stage 1: This is when you first fall asleep — your mind starts to drift off, but you can wake up easily. 

Stage 2: Your heart rate slows down, your body temperature drops, your eyes stop moving, and your brain waves slow down. You experience stage two sleep for about 50% of the night

Stages 3 and 4: They're known as the deep sleep stages. This is when your body really goes into repair mode. It’s difficult to wake someone up in these stages, and if you do, they are often very disoriented. 

Stage 5: This final stage is known as REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement. In this sleep stage, you often experience dreams. 

Your body cycles between these five stages of sleep throughout the night. The first cycle takes around 90 minutes. After that, they can take between 100 and 120 minutes. 

You need four to five sleep cycles each night to feel well rested and allow your body to heal.

The problem is...

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Most people don’t complete four to five sleep cycles. It simply isn’t possible to get through all of these sleep cycles in less than seven hours.

When your body can’t heal, you can develop both physical and mental health problems. 

In fact, research shows that sleep deprivation can lead to:

  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Decreased memory and cognition
  • And so much more...

Stay tuned for the next two parts of this series to learn more. We’re going to take a look at some research on sleep to understand how sleep affects life, health, and happiness.

To your health,

Alex Reid
President, Longevity Insider HQ