Visiting San Francisco this past weekend was bittersweet…
I’m originally from the ‘City’ as locals know it, but this visit felt different. I booked this trip months ago after hearing that one of my favorite sleep neuroscientists, Dr Matthew Walker, was giving the keynote address at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, a serious community to the science and study of human thought.
Some of those who know me from my past career might think, ‘why?’ Others know me as ‘why not? and totally committed to my new mission to help people with one of the most unrecognized challenges of our life & wellbeing, sleep.
Dr Walker is from the UK, Liverpool actually which is an accent I love after 17 years of life in London. Although his accent is not strongly Northern, his voice is calming, and he speaks with such eloquence and intelligence like ‘sleep poetry’.
I came to hear him speak but also to meet him and have him sign my book as I’ve done with several of my fav authors and books over the years.
“Sleep is the Swiss army knife of health.” Dr Matthew Walker
I’m absolutely passionate about this topic as you might know so hearing him was like preaching (him) to the converted (me) already. Surprisingly, he started his talk with bad news and it went downhill from there!
Why Sleep? Here’s the bad news!
The bad news he started with was that testicles were smaller in men who got 4-5 hrs of sleep and that they had a level of testosterone equal to a man 10 years older. Now that’s not in the book but what a wakeup call to many men!
That should deflate a few macho egos who boast how little sleep they get in order to win approval of how ‘hard’ they work. This is the same for women in terms of reproductive health, by the way!
In his engaging and humorous talk uncovering his research from over 20 years from Harvard to UC Berkeley, he’s been quoted to say, ‘The leading causes of disease and death in developed nations—diseases that are crippling health-care systems, such as heart disease, obesity, dementia, diabetes, and cancer—all have recognized causal links to a lack of sleep.’
I’ve been saying this for 5 years now since my corporate burnout then the National Geographic documentary, Sleepless in America where I first heard Dr Walker. I’ve been curating, learning and sharing from Dr Walker and many others since!
“The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.” Dr Matthew Walker
His research studies, especially in the education of our children, were compelling and even shocking yet it’s still not enough (yet) to change the system and way we live our lives. Starting with the question WHY is always a great place to start or as we say as coaches, the why beneath the why.
The art of asking the right questions is a coaching skill but also a ‘design thinking’ skill I’ve practiced over 20 years and that’s just the starting point.
What would it take to change the educational system to allow children’s minds to flourish and reduce mortality rates due to teenage drowsy driving accidents with the surprising statistics and studies he shared?
What’s not being said enough, or more so what’s not being done enough, is how to go beyond the tips, hacks and strategies to get the sleep we need and what systems and paradigms need to change!
I’ll dive deeper in future posts, FB Lives, talks and in a future course I’m creating to help coaches, educators, leaders and professionals with this because YOU can literally change the quality of your life and experience your highest potential and wellbeing!
“We need to radically reconsider the importance of sleep in education because when sleep is abundant, minds flourish.” Dr Matthew Walker
On a personal note, the bittersweet and perhaps ironic part is that I may be losing my parents earlier due to their lack of sleep. My parents met in San Francisco many years ago and were then married in 2 weeks!
I was conceived 9 months later. My mother, now 90, had been diagnosed with sleep apnea more than 20 years ago and now has been struggling to get even a decent night of sleep in the past 6 months even with her CPAP machine.
I live with them and see the effects of not enough sleep every single day. I came back to America to ‘look after them’ in their late years but I can’t seem to help them (they both don’t sleep well) at this point.
Most people cannot see into their future but it could share one thing that could make a difference in every aspect of their life, their family and their work is that prioritizing our sleep is the foundation is our wellbeing and being well.
If you want to change the world, Start with Sleep which is the name of my latest project soon to be launching in May.
I’d love to support everything you do by helping you take care of yourself first. Plant those seeds of health now!
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Chinese Proverb
Take care of yourself NOW by sharing this gift: