It’s easy to feel like sleep is a luxury we can’t afford. And when we do get the rest we need, we can be made to feel lazy or self-indulgent.
This Friday, March 15, is World Sleep Day, and one of its mission is changing the perception that sleep is for the weak. All over the globe, sleep educators are working to remind us that sleep is actually a biological necessity, not a hedonistic lifestyle choice for slackers and hippies.
Sleep has also been called the missing pillar of health, because a well-balanced diet and a regular exercise routine without good sleep hygiene amounts to a lot of wasted effort.
It’s a good year for sleep education, as TEDMED has also included Sleep Deprivation as one of the twenty most important health challenges facing the medical community today.
TEDMED, organized by the same company that funds TED talks, regularly tackles difficult issues like this by addressing health issues holistically with a diversity of viewpoints.
What Really Keeps Us Up at Night
The real sleep problem isn’t just about educating ourselves about the personal benefits to getting better sleep, but also addressing the reasons why sleep is often not valued at institutional levels, or mirrored by our thought leaders.
I was invited to weigh in on this topic, joining a panel of sleep doctors, researchers and business leaders. We are rolling out new sleep-related content over the next few weeks, but for starters, check out the roundtable discussion we had last week.
In this video below, we talk about some of the risks of sleep deprivation, but also what we can do as parents, bosses, and community leaders to support a healthier attitude about sleep. I get to riff about how to create a better sleep sanctuary, and also talk about the role of sharing dreams for reducing stress and remembering who we really are.
What can you do for World Sleep Day?
I would recommend doing nothing. (Ironically enough, given the whole sleep is for slackers vibe, this is also a good way to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Big Lebowski, a film about the Dude, who knew how to take things in stride without getting caught up by other people’s expectations about how to get the job done.)
Take a load off, turn off the email alerts on your smartphone, and settle down this Friday evening for some rest and relaxation.
Okay, if you must do something, check out some of the videos by sleep experts that will go live on Friday, including one by dream expert Allan Hobson.
And here’s where to keep up with the Sleep Challenge at TEDMED.
You can still pose questions to the team which may get picked by the moderators for us to address. I’ll be tweeting updates when they do go live, so make sure to follow me @ryanhurd.