The War On Sleep

"Before going to war on any matter, ask yourself, 'Is this the hill I want to die on?' " - Unknown


150 years ago, most people didn't die of the same causes that they die of today.  Not even close.
A century and a half is about 1/100th of a blink of an eye evolutionarily - not enough time to make much noticeable difference in human beings.  So, what is different?

In 1850, the top causes of death in the US were:

  1. Tuberculosis
  2. Dysentery/diarrhea
  3. Cholera
  4. Malaria
  5. Typhoid Fever
  6. Pneumonia
  7. Diphtheria
  8. Scarlet Fever
  9. Meningitis
  10. Whooping Cough

Today, the ten leading causes of death in the US are:

  1. Heart Disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (Lung Cancer, COPD, etc.)
  4. Accidents
  5. Stroke
  6. Alzheimer’s Disease
  7. Diabetes
  8. Influenza
  9. Kidney Disease
  10. Suicide

So, why has the list of things that kill us changed from entirely communicable diseases to these things, most of which are non-communicable diseases?  What has changed? Why is it that internal diseases now kill us insted of external ones?   By the way, you can throw obesity in there as a factor and contributing cause of many of these.

The answer is obvious once you know what most people don't yet realize:  of the current list of leading causes of death, at least 5 can be directly linked to sleep deprivation and 2 more are very frequently linked to it as well.  Obesity, a national epidemic and contributing factor to multiple of these causes of death, is also directly related to sleep disturbances and is, in multiple instances, the mechanism of onset for several of these diseases.  In the past decade, we have learned that there is a direct correlation and causation between disrupted sleep patterns and heart disease, cancer (cancers grow 50% faster or more in sleep deprived subjects) stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.  Additionally, accidents are frequently a result of sleep deprivation (250,000 drivers a day fall asleep driving in the US according to the DOT) and suicide is often linked to depression, which is nearly always associated with disrupted sleep patterns.  Medical science has found cures and preventions for all of the communicable diseases which used to kill us, and now we kill ourselves via sleep deprivation.   It’s shocking, but it’s true.

How did this happen?  It started with a simple invention: electric lighting.  That single innovation pushed back the limitations of the daylight working hours and fueled the industrial revolution and the advent of shift work.  One thing after another compounded this and now, as a result, we sleep 90 minutes to 2 hours less per night on average than our ancestors did just 200 years ago.  The amazing part, however, is that we did it willingly as a society and with no idea as to what we were doing to ourselves individually and collectively.  We launched a War on Sleep, and we got slaughtered.  Now, most of us don’t even know what happened, but the smarter among us have realized where we went wrong and are seeking to extricate ourselves from the war and go back to a peaceful existence.

I'm happy to say that I am one of the lucky ones who has completely withdrawn from the War On Sleep and now I enjoy excellent sleep and health as a result. In this blog, in my book, and on our podcast, I will tell you everything you need to win as well.






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