Improve sleep to improve well-being and performance

We talk about Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk, who made headlines earlier this year.

His social media comments about his company, Tesla, and a recent appearance on another podcast have also attracted criticism and controversy. Musk shed light on what is clearly a demanding lifestyle which seems to be preventing him resting properly (and perhaps sleeping properly too).

Tougher Minds founder Dr. Jon Finn discusses this and explains how good quality sleep is important for everyone.

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    Podcast Transcript 

    In this episode of the Tougher Minds podcast, we’re talking about inventor and Silicon Valley Entrepreneur, Elon Musk, Dr Jon Finn discusses his social media comments about his company, Tesla, and an appearance on another podcast, which attracted criticism and controversy. Both these incidents shed some light on Elon Musk’s demanding lifestyle, and Jon explained what we can learn to benefit us in our own lives.

    Life seems to be more demanding than possibly ever before. Lots of people are struggling. It seems like people who almost we thought might be bulletproof are not and are also vulnerable to this. And the Elon Musk example is very interesting. He’s an extremely high performing guy and think he’s reportedly worth $19,000,000,000, he’s doing lots of groundbreaking work, but clearly not thinking as cleverly as he might. And I think the, he’s been saying that he’s been in the factory for maybe three to four days at a time. Clearly he’s not looking after himself and particularly looking after his bra in as well as he. Is it shorter them that might be leading to some of these negative press stories, that are circulating about him.

    Explain to me, he said something very interesting. Then he might not be looking after his brain. How might a, a demanding time consuming personal shadow with lots of work and no rest significantly. How might that hamper him from, from looking after his brain?

    Well, it sounds odd, doesn’t it? Looking after your brain, like you look after your teeth by watching to and how much sugar you eat and cleaning them, regular flossing, etc. Our brain is invisible to us. We can’t see it, but it ultimately runs everything that we do and everything we do impacts on our brain in a positive, negative or neutral way. What we have evolved to do to stay healthy and happy.

    He’s actually very different to how we measure those things today. We increasingly understand the importance of sleep, diet and exercise in brand function and for looking after our brain and I think if Elon Musk is talking about working in the factory, in the leaving the fight for three to four days at a time. I think he taught also talks about Working 120 hour per week that suggesting that he’s not sleeping well, which probably having a knock on effect to his diet and his exercise as well. But if we think about the sleep, then we know more about that either in terms of why we do it. We’ve missed on this myth that some people don’t need an awful lot of it, like Margaret Thatcher who famously had four hours sleep. Perhaps we think she didn’t always make the best decisions. And Winston Churchill, there’s two very famous contradictory quotes about how he doesn’t need much sleep….and then about how falling asleep in the afternoon makes one day into two. And we know that those people who don’t sleep die pretty quickly. The reason we know that is because people do get conditioned where they can’t sleep and their health rapidly declines and eventually die. We need sleep.

    It seems to affect everything that we do. Every investment we make in our lives and the trouble with science is, it often gives us averages and nobody is average. I think we need to think about sleep not just as how long you do it, and science says adults need about seven and a half hours. When you’re younger, you need even more than that. As you get older, you need a bit less than the nhs. Have some good guidelines there, but you need to work out what is the why is a good amount of sleep for you to get per night, but it’s not just about the length is about the quality as well. I’m not trying to get into those maybe three to four non rem sleep cycles, so what goes on when we’re in those deep cycles is where the power of sleep happens and there are a few things going on. We know that if when we get into those cycles and if we dug into this adequate cycles, our brain doesn’t organize and salt and stall information we’d been paying attention to that day. Left with us, stifles our learning and development. We know that developing ourselves, making progress in our life is absolutely essential to feeling well. So if we’re not sleeping well or not allowing our brain to actually salt and organize everything you’ve been paying attention to,

    The second thing that goes on when my sleeping is the outbrain essentially rejuvenate itself. It gets rid of all the rubbish that’s been building up during the daytime and it cleanses itself. we used to think that because the brand doesn’t have a lymphatic system, they might only be able to do this when it shuts down the sciences, probably not as the shore there as we probably thought it was last year. But there’s something about When we, when we sleep, our brain starts to, to, to cleanse itself, um, of that over the, of the brain that is maintained in our process is called the hippocampus. The become part of these parts of the brain are essential for producing new brand sells. If we want to learn and develop, we need new brand sells equal. If we want to manage stress well, we need new brand sells. Probably be cost. When we’ve got lots of new brain cells will going through a stressful period, it helps us not to get stuck in and unhealthful thinking wrong, but I think more flexibly around a challenging problem connected to the idea. And the third reason why sleep is really important for us to be well is the sleep helps, uh, helps our prefrontal cortex to work properly. So this is really important for managing staff stress with regularity, but also for making decisions and judgments about things. It seems that when we don’t sleep properly, I’m a part of the part of our brand that we use to regulate ourselves. It doesn’t work properly and we get this thing called functional impairment of the prefrontal cortex.

    Why that happens, we don’t really know, but it stops, has been able to regular things like our emotions or I’ll make good decisions. And the scary thing here is that it also impairs our judgment about the need for sleep. So the less sleep we get, the less we’re able to make a judgment about whether we’re getting enough sleep or not. And what we find is that those who are sleep deprived often think that their sleep is fine, because they’re not able to use that clever part of their brain and you know, we say this in, in people who were running big organizations, who are running no doubt government departments. They’re making poor decisions about their own personal well-being. We know that nothing good is going to be built on that. The fourth reason why we need more sleep, and this is how the New Scientist put it on one of their front covers last year, is that lack of sleep is killing your brain.

    Increasingly data is showing about the onset of prefrontal cortex, degenerative diseases which are currently causing the NHS a lot of problems. Things like alzheimer’s, things like dementia, they seem to be correlated with poor sleep patterns. That makes a lot of sense, if when we go to sleep, we are clearing out all the unhelpful nasty chemicals that are building up in our bread.

    So, we need sleep to help us to learn and develop. We need sleep to help us to direct manage stress. We need sleep to help us to help our brain to work properly. Our prefrontal cortex, what we call our H.A.C. Brain, we need sleep to stave off those long term brain type illnesses, if we want to, you know, work towards being our best and we’re seeing someone like Elon Musk who’s not getting enough sleep. You can see why there’s an onset of problems and what we’re seeing for Elon Musk is the short term problems and what is more hidden is some of the longer term problems he might face if he doesn’t start to build better sleeping habits.

    So considering all that then, most people I’m sure would want to improve their mental health, their wellbeing and that performance. It’s clear then that improving your sleep is going to be a significant component of any efforts to do that. How can people start to go about considering whether their sleep is sufficiently adequate for them and then improving it?

    Yeah, so that’s a great question because we increasingly live in a knowing society, more, more self help, books coming out all the time giving us information about what we need to do. But knowing is different to doing, um, if we’re going to help people with these challenges, we need to help them to understand how to do things differently.

    I think often when we’re trying to assess ourselves, what we call self-assessment scales in psychology are often overrated, like the Likert scales. Just assessing yourself on a scale of one to 10 or 100, you know, last night. How good was your sleep? One to 10. 10 being that you woke up and you felt really refreshed, and that’s a good way to start investigating this for yourself and you’re starting to record that over a period of a few weeks.

    Good quality sleep should mean that you wake up well rested and ready for the day ahead. Feeling like you can be clever. You can use, you know, the clever part of your brain. You feel like you’re not being overwhelmed by things, so you’ve got to do that on a, on a subjective level, and just thinking about yourself and then if you want to make improvements to sleep there is a ton of knowledge out there about what you can do differently,

    But I think what we have to is just try to take very small steps so that we’re not being over ambitious with the changes that we want to make. So I know that I need to get nine hours sleep a night, so that means I really have to prioritize that, but I didn’t get there from probably seven to nine overnight. It’s taken me a number of years to build to that and to build a habit around that. You’ve got to do it almost five, 10 minutes at a time.

    Just do something. It’s going to be achievable for you and you will build a habit up like everything that we do. Sleep Is a habit so we have to change the current habit into one that’s more helpful for us by taking small steps.

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