Would you like to become smarter, healthier and leaner by putting in less effort?

How would you like to become smarter, more creative, leaner, healthier and to have better social skills? And to achieve all of this by putting in less effort?

It’s not a joke. There is a way.

A large proportion of Westerners suffer from a certain deficiency that impedes creativity, judgement and their ability to solve complex problems. It can also contribute to weight gain and worse overall health. What’s more, this deficiency often leads to your friends finding you less fun to hang out with.

You may have already guessed where this is going. It’s one of today’s most underrated health issues.

Are You Deficient?

Are you deprived of this essential thing? It’s easy to diagnose:

  • Do you use an alarm clock to get up on most mornings? You’re probably deprived.
  • Do you tend to be irritable and cranky in the mornings? You’re probably deprived.
  • Do you need coffee or something else to get you going most days? You may well be deprived.

The Importance of Sleep

I highly recommend watching the above TED talk by a scientist who studies sleep and the brain. The video was only recently released online and has shot up to over 650 000 views in a flash!

The take-home message there is that most people in the Western world get too little sleep, and that this has dramatic negative consequences. I for one am absolutely convinced that this is true.

As we find out in the talk, most people feel best when they average about 8 hours of sleep a night (this varies from person to person though!), but the actual average amount of hours slept is currently 6.5 hours, and even less is all too common.

Making sleep a priority is not a waste, as many would have you think: in fact it is quite the opposite. It’s an investment in your own intelligence, skill, health and wellbeing.

If you’re looking to take in new knowledge or learn a new task, sleep deprivation is devastating. Evidence suggests that it’s during sleep our brains get the chance to revisit and reinforce what we’ve learnt. If, for example, you’re a student who happens to have a late night out – then you might actually need a sleep-in, for the sake of your studies!

What You Can Do About It

Apart from setting aside more time, there are other tips for better sleep suggested in the talk:

  • Keep your bedroom dark (and slightly cool)
  • Reduce exposure to light during the last half hour before sleep. Turn off strong lamps. Don’t go into a “massively lit bathroom” to brush your teeth just before bedtime. Don’t sit at your computer that last half hour either (guilty of that one!).
  • No coffee in the evening – in fact, preferably not even after lunch.

What You Stand to Gain

According to the talk, getting enough good sleep has the following advantages:

Less trouble with:

  • Mood swings
  • Stress
  • Anger
  • Impulsivity
  • Unwanted bad habits such as drinking and smoking [and eating junk food, my note]

Improvement in:

  • Concentration
  • Attention
  • Decision-making
  • Creativity
  • Social skills
  • Health [and weight, my note]

What’s Your Take on This?

Should you sleep more? Have you noticed any positive effects in your life from getting more sleep? Share in the comments.


How To Lose Weight: Stress less, sleep more (see for more tips on better sleep!)

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Toxic Sugar: Fantastic Video on the Obesity Epidemic!

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  1. Ash Simmonds
    Red wine and a movie is my favourite cure for insomnia.
  2. Eileen Cruise
    excellent commentary on the importance of sleep. I find when I'm sleep deprived I get clumsy and start making mistakes.
  3. Kerstin
    The software F'lux works wonders too...helps reduce certain wavelengths at night, as well as wearing blue-blocking glasses...

  4. GP
    I watched this as soon as it was uploaded on TED. Russel didn't say anything special but he greatly summarized all the important stuff in those 20 minutes or whatever. I kinda wished the video was longer. We can learn so much more.
  5. Monique
    The importance of sleep is so under-rated and is all too easily seen as laziness or a waste of time in today's society. I know I have been ingrained with this dogma that you have to make the most out of your day, making you feel guilty when you go to bed early.

    It's up there with stress levels and diet in it's importance for health and weight management, but so few allow themselves to recognise this.

  6. murray
    I don't know to what extent others have had this experience, but I find I do not need nearly as much sleep since going LCHF. I notice that I need less sleep after evenings when I skip dinner or eat early and light. I have no difficulty getting to sleep and sleep very deeply for 4.5 hours. Then after 4.5 hours, or sometimes 6.0 hours, I break into consciousness. I do part sleep/part mediation until about 6 to 7 hours in bed. This does me fine. I work in a job that is very mental energy intense. I have much more morning energy and alertness than my wife who gets about 8 hours per night and trudges to the coffee machine. I don't drink coffee or caffeine teas. I do have a chocolate drink most mornings made with 100% chocolate and butter, just to get into fat burning mode before walking and jogging the dog before breakfast. I read on Dave Asprey's blog that he runs on five hours sleep, so I am curious whether others have noticed less need for sleep after going LCHF (including avoidance of omega-6 laden vegetable and seed oils). My working hypothesis is that with less oxidation damage, less inflammation and more available cholesterol for cellular repair, less sleep is required.
    Reply: #7
  7. FrankG
    Yes Murray, similar experience here: no trouble getting off to a deep sleep (although I am usually in bed around 9pm) but I wake early (after 4-6 hours, more often 5-6) and although able to rest and take short naps over another hour or two, I never really get back to deep sleep. Sometimes I'll take a cat nap during the day as well but not every day.

    I am usually up long before sunrise but that suits my hobby of bird and wildlife photography: as I can often fit in a walk before work or be out in the field on days off, just as the sun is coming up.

    I've tried staying up later but I still wake at the same early hour.

    This did not start straight away with LCHF but has been going on for a year or so now. At first I was concerned by this change (I used to need 8 hours) but now accept it, as I am able to function well, mentally and physically with plenty of energy -- just as you describe.

    Also no caffeine for me except dark chocolate and at most, one cup of weak green tea in the morning only.

    Reply: #9
  8. Kim
    Murray, I'm very interested in your morning chocolate drink... Care to give us a recipe? I have been an LCHF for over 4 years and sometimes would like something else to drink besides water, and the occasional herbal tea. Thank you.
  9. Paul
    I am experiencing similar pattern, before LCHF (over 7 years now) I needed at least 8 hours, now 7 is plenty. If I may add to Murray's working hypothesis, that probably physiology of our brains on ketones is different, say 'more efficient' to that when glucose is used as the main fuel. It would be interesting to do comparative studies between vegans/omnivores/LCHF subjects pertaining to brain function.
  10. Carol
    I have been LCHF for 8 months. At first I felt no different, but had read that the diet improves sleep. I am not sure when the transition happened--it was a gradual change I suppose. I now feel well rested after only 8 hours of sleep, whereas previously I needed 9 hours, or at least 8.5 at a bare minimum. However, what is more significant is that i no longer snore. I believe this explains the change. Years ago when I had gained middle age fat I began snoring. Although I had lost that excess weight on a semi starvation diet, I still snored. Since going LCHF my weight has not changed, so I can only guess that I have exchanged visceral fat for subcutaneous. Visceral fat is "internal" fat that coats just about everything inside us. I am guessing that the structures that swell and obstruct breathing have shrunk, perhaps as fat has left these tissues. Is this idea plausible? I don't know how else to explain how it is possible that I no longer snore. I can sleep on my back like a baby, no noise, no waking up multiple times through the night, no dry mouth.

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