A few months ago, I read The Bulletproof Diet. (See the full review on my Goodreads page.) While there were plenty of things in the book that I hadn’t expected to see, possibly the one that startled me the most was the author’s assertion that people can simply “decide” not to need as much sleep. As awesome as it would be to happily exist on 5 hours of sleep a night, for the vast majority of us that will never be anything but a recipe for disaster.
There’s simply no getting around the reality that sleep is really, truly important. Not just any sleep, either – quality sleep, and at certain times. Sleep plays a key role in our bodies’ ability to:
- Flush toxins
- Repair and restore damaged cells
- Fight inflammation and infection
- Reverse the oxidation damage of the day
- Restore healthy hormone levels and cycles
- Reset, restore, and maintain critical mental and emotional health
(Fun fact: did you know that “if you prevent a person from dreaming for just a few nights, that individual will start to experience clear signs of psychosis.” Source)
Without enough good quality sleep, our bodies cannot carry out essential detoxification and maintenance on a daily basis. As a result, lack of sleep has been directly linked to increased insulin resistance, undesirable weight gain, increased risk of cancer, premature aging, adrenal fatigue, and depression (source and source). Contrary to popular belief, you can’t “make up for” more than about one night of lost sleep, either. Sleeping all day Saturday won’t make up for getting four hours of sleep a night – no matter how many college students try to tell you otherwise!
As I’m sure you’ve guessed already, getting plenty of sleep is even more crucial if you’re doing any kind of intentional, extended, or intensive detox. It’s important to start a detox well rested if at all possible, and essential to plan in adequate time to get both a full night’s sleep and extra sleep as needed when you’re pursuing any kind of detox. After all, the whole point of a detox is to clean out toxins. Detoxing without getting enough sleep is liking piling tools and resources for house repairs in your living room, but refusing to let the construction/repair crew work more than a couple hours a day – very little is actually going to get done!
There are dozens of things we can do to promote good sleep, but today I want to focus on just one. Because when it comes right down to it, none of those other things will happen – let alone help – if you don’t decide to do this one thing first. Stop viewing sleep as optional, indulgent or less important than your to-do list. Stop glorifying the caffeine-addicted, never-stop-moving, “you can sleep when you’re dead” lifestyle, and put your foot down. Sleep is a non-negotiable part of improving and maintaining your health; it’s foundational to your quality of life. While we will all have seasons of life in which real, consistent and quality sleep is simply out of reach due to circumstances beyond our control (a new baby, for example), but choosing to reject the world’s view of sleep as an indulgence or weakness is a vital and powerful first step to reclaiming your ability to detoxify, both daily and intensively.
Are you protective of your sleep?