When it comes to health, there is one criminally overlooked element: sleep. Good sleep helps you shed fat for good, stave off disease, stay productive, and improve virtually every function of your mind and body. That's what Shawn Stevenson learned when a degenerative bone disease crushed his dream of becoming a professional athlete. Like many of us, he gave up on his health and his body, until he decided there must be a better way. Through better sleep and optimized nutrition, Stevenson not only healed his body but also achieved fitness and business goals he never thought possible. In Sleep Smarter , Stevenson shares easy tips and tricks to discover the best sleep and best health of your life. With his 14-Day Sleep Makeover, you'll learn how to create the ideal sleep sanctuary, how to hack sunlight to regulate your circadian rhythms, which clinically proven sleep nutrients and supplements you need, and stress-reduction exercises and fitness tips to keep you mentally and physically sharp. Sleep Smarter is the ultimate guide to sleeping better, feeling refreshed, and achieving a healthier, happier life.
Shawn Stevenson is the creator of The Model Health Show, which has been featured as the #1 Fitness and Nutrtion podcast on iTunes. A graduate of The University of Missouri - St. Louis, Stevenson studied biology and kinesiology. He later founded the Advanced Integrative Health Alliance, a company that provides wellness service for individuals and organizations worldwide. Stevenson has been a keynote speaker for numerous universities, organizations, and conferences. He lives with his family in Wildwood, MO.
"Shawn Stevenson's Sleep Smarter is the first book I recommend to leaders who want to achieve peak performance. Most people try to maximize their 'time' when the real secret to productivity is to maximize your energy, and that begins with getting enough great sleep. This book will quickly put you to sleep...in a good way." --Kevin Kruse, New York Times bestselling author "One of the missing pieces in the health conversation today is the importance of sleep. In Sleep Smarter you'll learn how sleep impacts your mind, body, and performance, plus practical solutions to help you get the best sleep ever." --Jonathan Bailor, New York Times bestselling author of The Calorie Myth "If you're not sleeping, you're not healthy. Shawn Stevenson helps unravel our modern sleep crisis with clarity and focused solutions that can start helping you tonight. A must read." --Dr. Pedram Shojai, award-winning filmmaker, founder of Well.Org, and author of The Urban Monk "It doesn't matter what you eat if you don't get your sleep! Shawn Stevenson has thrown a spotlight on the disease of insomnia and lack of sleep that is killing so many of us. This book is the perfect introduction to the tools and strategies that could fix your broken sleep." --Alexandra Jamieson, bestselling author and costar of the hit movie Super Size Me "We've all read books on the importance of eating healthy and exercise, but sleep is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle that many people overlook. Sleep Smarter has everything the average person needs to become a 'professional sleeper' to further enhance their quality of life." --Drew Manning, New York Times bestselling author of Fit2Fat2Fit "Sleep was something that, since college, has never been that important to me. For over a decade I've sacrificed hours of sleep every day to get more work done. Now that I'm in a phase of optimization for both personal and business reasons, thanks to Sleep Smarter, I realize that focusing on better sleep can help me get to the next level. I'm glad to have the guide to proper sleep in my hands." -- Pat Flynn, bestselling author and founder of SmartPassiveIncome.com "The fact is, to be happy, healthy, and productive, we need to get enough sleep. Sleep Smarter is a terrific resource for anyone who wants a great night's rest." -- Gretchen Rubin, New York Times Bestselling author of BETTER THAN BEFORE and THE HAPPINESS PROJECT "If you are looking for the most comprehensive guide on enhancing your sleep, beating insomnia, and using cutting-edge, proven techniques to optimize the most important part of your body's repair and recovery, then you found it. Sleep Smarter contains everything you need to know in one convenient, succinct summary. I will definitely be recommending this book to any of my clients who want to sleep better, deeper, and of course, smarter." -- Ben Greenfield, New York Times bestselling author of Beyond Training
CHAPTER 1 KNOW THE VALUE OF SLEEP The topic of this chapter is a little unusual, but it''s probably the most important. Many people are negligent about getting enough sleep because they don''t truly understand the benefits they could be getting from it. Once you understand the advantages of getting high-quality sleep, you''ll be passionate about to putting these strategies into action for yourself. So what is sleep? And why is it important? Well, defining sleep is a lot like trying to define life. No one completely understands it, and if you try to explain it, you''re more likely to sound like Forrest Gump than a world-renown scholar. (Life is like a box of chocolates . . . sleep is like pretending to be dead.) The Free Dictionary defines sleep as a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost, so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli. That sounds a little weird, but the most important takeaway is that it''s a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body. If you''re not doing it, then you''re being completely unnatural. And nobody likes unnatural people. What''s more important is knowing the big prizes that sleep gives you. Generally, being awake is catabolic (breaks you down) and being asleep is anabolic (builds you up). Sleep is known to be an elevated anabolic state, heightening the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, skeletal, and muscular systems. Basically, sleep rebuilds you and keeps you youthful. High-quality sleep fortifies your immune system, balances your hormones, boosts your metabolism, increases your physical energy, and improves the function of your brain. Unless you give your body the right amount of sleep, you will never, I repeat never, have the body and life you want to have. In our culture, sleep is not respected very much at all. In fact, we are often programmed with the idea that to be successful, we need to work harder, we need to sleep less, and we can catch up on all the sleep we want when we''re dead. To say sleep is not respected is really an understatement. Working hard is unarguably a big part of being successful, but so is working smart. So many people in our world today go on plugging away with work, burning the candle at both ends, not realizing that the quality of work they''re doing is being radically compromised. Research shows that after just 24 hours of sleep deprivation, there is an overall reduction of 6 percent in glucose reaching the brain. Simple translation: You get dumber. This is also why you crave candy, chips, doughnuts, and other starchy, sugary things when you''re sleep deprived. Your body is trying to compel you to get that glucose back to your brain as soon as possible. It''s a built-in survival mechanism. This is inherent in our genes because, in our days as hunter-gatherers, that lack of brainpower could mean a swift death from a predator or a substantially reduced ability to hunt and procure our own food for survival. Today, a simple trip to the refrigerator can bypass your body''s cry for more sleep, but those stress mechanisms are still alive and well within your body right now. I CAN''T BELIEVE I DID THAT LAST NIGHT The most valuable takeaway from this sleep deprivation "brain drain" discovery is that the reduction in glucose isn''t shared equally. Your parietal lobe and the prefrontal cortex actually lose 12 to 14 percent of their glucose when you don''t sleep. These are the areas of the brain we most need for thinking, for distinguishing between ideas, for social control, and for being able to tell the difference between right and wrong. Have you ever made a poor decision when you were up late at night that you wouldn''t have made if your head was on right? Chances are you have. It wasn''t entirely your fault. Your brain was hijacked by a dumber (and slightly less attractive) version of yourself. When you''re sleep deprived, you are unknowingly setting up a steel cage match between your willpower and your biology. Sure, you might be committed to eating healthier, exercising more, or even choosing better relationships. But when your prefrontal cortex starts to shut down, if you''ve ever had a potato chip, if you''ve ever had sugary cereal, if you''ve ever had ice cream, your brain knows that it can find a quick source of glucose in those things and shuttle it back to where it is needed. Your willpower is now in a judo-style armbar as your entire body will compel you to seek those foods out. The next thing you know, you have cheesy fingertips from jamming down a whole bag of cheese puffs, or you find yourself looking down the barrel of an empty pint of ice cream. Upset and defeated, you blame yourself, not realizing that you were set up for failure in the first place. When you are tired, you are not yourself. Well, at least not the best version of yourself. Being sleep-deprived will automatically stack the deck against you. By sleeping smarter, you''re going to be able to stack the conditions in your favor and put healthy choices on autopilot. You''re going to get a ton of tips and strategies to make that happen, but first we need to take a look at how that sleepy brain is affecting the rest of your life. PUT IT TO THE TEST A study published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that poor sleep quality was equal to binge drinking and marijuana use in determining academic performance. The study reported that college students who were poor sleepers were much more likely to earn worse grades and even drop out of classes than their healthy sleeping peers. Finding out that poor sleep can be as detrimental to learning as binge drinking should be a real eye-opener. Learning is a big part of our lives no matter what stage we''re at. Our ability to learn and retain information is paramount to our success. Whether we''re in school or in the workforce, we''ll often sacrifice sleep in the name of getting things done. But it''s important to remember that there''s a big difference between "working" and actually being effective. By forgoing your sleep, you can absolutely do more work, but the quality and effectiveness of your work will be sacrificed. A study published in The Lancet that looked at a group of physicians proved that sleep-deprived individuals took 14 percent longer to complete a task and made 20 percent more errors than individuals who were well rested. Not only are we taking longer to do the same task, but we''re going to have to spend even more time trying to go back to clean up the mess we''ve made. If you learn to structure your time to get more sleep first, then you''ll be able to get your work done faster and more effectively than if you zombie- walked your way through it. You''ll be able to be more creative and energetic, and you''ll have greater access to the parts of your brain responsible for problem-solving. The cultural idea of sleeping when you''re dead will only accelerate the day that it becomes your reality. And the impact that sleep deprivation has on your brain will make your life a whole lot harder while you''re still here to enjoy it. YOUR BRAIN NEEDS A REHAB Since the beginning of documented human history, philosophers and scientists alike have postulated what the real purpose of sleep is. Since it''s this weird state that we''re in, unconscious to the world around us, this would be the time that we''d be most vulnerable to danger and predation. From an evolutionary perspective, you''d think that we would have evolved out of sleep by now if it was making it tougher on our survival. But what''s been discovered is that sleep is actually what has enabled us to grow and evolve to the incredible level we have. Sleep hasn''t been an evolutionary problem; it''s been an evolutionary catalyst. The human brain is the most powerful structure on the planet. It has enabled us to build our bodies and to build skyscrapers--to build automobiles and to build spaceships--to unlock the power of technology to create the Internet and to unlock the power of our DNA to understand life. Our brains can think externally of any new circumstance, analyze the past, forecast the future, and create limitless strategies to get there. Billions of brain cells are controlling every function in your body as well. It''s important to understand that each brain cell is capable of doing what your whole body does. These cells eat, communicate, reproduce, and even make waste. Scientists have discovered that this process of waste removal might be one of the biggest connections to our critical need for high-quality sleep. Your body has what is essentially a cellular waste management system called the lymphatic system. It''s responsible for eliminating metabolic waste and toxins to keep you healthy. However, the lymphatic system does not include your brain. This is because your brain is a closed system controlled by the blood-brain barrier, which decides what can go through and what cannot. Your brain is heavily guarded by cellular bouncers that can spot a fake ID a mile away. Scientists have found that the brain actually has its own unique waste disposal system, similar to that of the lymphatic system. It''s called the glymphatic system--with the added "g" as a special shout-out to the glial cells in the brain that control it. All of the dynamic functions the human brain does result in a lot of waste products, all of which need to be removed. This waste removal literally makes room for new growth and development. Removing and
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