#747 Sleep: Crazy Stats

To Make Your Heart Skip a Beat

Wrapping up our tour through world-class sleep scientist Matthew Walker’s brain (and book Why We Sleep), how about some sleep stats to knock your socks off and get you under the sheets a little earlier tonight?!

Get this.

Matthew says: “When communicating science to the general public in lectures or writing, I’m always wary of bombarding an audience with never-ending mortality and morbidity statistics, lest they themselves lose the will to live in front of me. It is hard not to do so with such compelling masses of studies in the field of sleep deprivation. Often, however, a single astonishing result is all the people need to apprehend the point. For cardiovascular health, I believe that finding comes from a ‘global experiment’ in which 1.5 billion people are forced to reduce their sleep by one hour or less for a single night each year. It is very likely that you have been part of this experiment, otherwise known as daylight savings time.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the switch to daylight savings time in March results in most people losing an hour of sleep opportunity. Should you tabulate millions of daily hospital records, as researchers have done, you discover that this seemingly trivial sleep reduction comes with a frightening spike in heart attacks the following day. Impressively, it works both ways. In the autumn within the Northern Hemisphere, when the clocks move forward and we gain an hour of sleep opportunity time, rates of heart attacks plummet the day after. A similar rise-and-fall relationship can be seen with the number of traffic accidents, proving that the brain, by way of attention lapses and micro-sleeps, is just as sensitive as the heart to very small perturbations of sleep. Most people think nothing of losing an hour of sleep for a single night, believing it to be trivial and inconsequential. It is anything but.

The book is filled with RIDICULOUSLY compelling stats to take sleep seriously. That might just be the most compelling.

I’m actually typing this shortly after the spring time change so it’s particularly poignant.

Think about it for a moment:

HEART ATTACKS AND TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS SPIKE THE DAY AFTER WE SPRING FORWARD!!!

(And make a similar decline when we “fall back” and get a bonus hour of sleep.)

That hour of sleep you might be losing wasting time on late-night smartphone use?

It matters.

A lot more than you may think.

That’s Today’s +1.

How about an extra hour of sleep tonight?

😴

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