Rock 1 - Sleep
If you want to see how quickly the neuroscience revolution is changing our view of ourselves look no further than what we now know about sleep. If you google “sleep” you’ll still find some older websites perpetuating the myth that we don't really know why we sleep. This isn’t the case, through rapid advances in neuro-imaging (ways of seeing the living brain) we now understand so much about the wonderful and complex process of sleep. What's been revealed is an amazing cornucopia of nurturing activities. These activities are good for mind, brain and body.
We should allow ourselves between 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night. If we don't look after our sleep we will be less productive, less healthy and die younger. Sleep isn't just the absence of wakefulness, it's its very own brain state with its own rules and purposes. The brain is as active when we’re sleeping as it is when we’re awake, it’s just doing different things.
Sleep is our first rock of well-being and it’s the foundation on which many of the others rest. In Macbeth, Shakespeare waxes lyrical about sleep, in the process, capturing something fundamental and wise;
'Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, Chief nourisher in life's feast.'
We sleep for the following reasons;
To consolidate memories;
To clean the brain;
To process problems;
To build our immune system;
To cleanse and manage emotional experiences;
To manage our physical health, particularly cardio-vascular health.
Scientific studies across the world have proved beyond doubt that sleep provides our minds, brains and bodies with an incredible recuperative service. And we’re pre-programmed to experience this service every night. Everything in the following paragraph has been scientifically verified as an outcome of good sleep:
“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers your food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attack, stroke or diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed and anxious.”
“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”
E. Joseph Cossman.