Evolutionary Theory On Why Sleep Is So Important

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Human evolutionary theory drives many of my thought processes and actions. It’s a very elegant and logical way to think about ourselves as an animal in the bigger scheme of things.

The human desire to continually improve everything we do has taken us out of caves and onto the moon. This desire to discover and invent drives us forward as a species, whilst simultaneously the push towards reducing everything to the minimum amount of effort to bring the maximum amount of results has paradoxically made us lazier.

Natural selection has adapted us to be the most functional form of animal possible in this modern world. Whilst the smartest and most forward thinking of our species continue to push the limits of the human mind to explore planets in our solar system, and galaxies in our universe previously unconsidered.

Sleep in Evolution

If humans have been pushing the boundaries of advancement for anywhere between 250,000 to 1m years. And if evolution continues to improve the human species ensuring we have more time and knowledge to continually explore the world and create new things. Why hasn’t evolution trimmed off sleep? After all, sleep is 8 hours of time lost where we could be making new things and advancing further.

Sleep is at The Top of The Health Pyramid

You can easily argue the reason sleep hasn’t been evolutionarily removed from human life is simply because it is so incredibly important for the survival of our species. For the advancement of our bodies and brain.

After all, if sleep wasn’t so important, evolution would have found a way to remove it from our lives as it’s an unnecessary inconvenience and gets in the way of our activities.

Why is Sleep The Most Important Health Benefit

The three things I always talk about as the most important basics for human optimisation are sleep, nutrition and movement. Nutrition and movement are in joint 2nd place, with the winner for maximum health always being sleep.

During sleep is the only time the body literally repairs itself. Mitochondria cells repair themselves, muscle tissue heals and the brain re energises. You need to be in a state of sleep for these basic important functions to happen. If you do not get enough sleep, or the right amount of sleep, you cannot repair and you will find it difficult to thrive and maximise your human potential.

Build Your Sleep Routine

We hear many health professionals talk about a morning routine. But we rarely hear them talking about a sleep routine which is almost certainly more important for your long term health.

My routine has evolved over the years as I align with my natural circadian rhythm.

I’ve noticed that it’s very difficult for me to sleep in late, my body clock tends to wake me naturally between 5.30 and 6am. This means I need to be asleep before 10pm in order to hit the generally agreed sleep range of 7-8 hours.

I strongly suggest you observe and become aware of these patterns yourself. We are not all the same, and in the same way exercise affects us in different ways, we also have individual variances in sleep patterns and preferences.

Since I’ve become aware of this natural circadian rhythm to wake me before 6am, I’ve also noticed the huge difference in how I feel the next day if I go to sleep before or after 9.30/10pm.

My sleep routine therefore has me in bed before 9.30pm where I will read quickly for a few minutes, engage a few deep breaths to calm my mind, then naturally fall asleep before 10pm to ensure I hit my 7-8 hours per night.

Weekend Jet Lag

A mistake many people make is to effectively give ourselves jet lag every weekend by staying up late. If you go to bed on a Friday and Saturday night two hours later than you do Sunday-Thursday, you shift your circadian clock 2 hours. Meaning every Monday morning, you have 2 hours of jet lag to recover from.

This may not sound like a huge deal. But when you add that to all we know about the importance of sleep on muscle recovery, mitochondria repair and brain neuron pathway regeneration, you can understand how this can damage your body and mind every week.

By simply sleeping on the weekends at the same time as you do during the weekdays, you stop the continuous shift of your circadian rhythm ,allowing your body to settle into an expectant fixed schedule sleep routine which improves your sleep further.

Resources

In Mind Pump 2245, the boys talk to sleep expert Dr. Kirk Parsley about everything to do with the importance of sleep, and how to optimise this in your own lives. Listen into this episode to learn more about how we evolved to sleep, why sleep is so important for brain development, a free check-list for improved sleep, and many more golden nuggets of information.

Learn more from the experts to improve your sleep, which will help to improve your life, leading you to Live Stronger & Live Longer!



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