"Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting."
Humans beings are the only species that deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent gain. Mother nature has never faced the challenge of coming up with a safety net for lack of sleep.
Types of Sleep
All stages of sleep are important - "mother nature wouldn't waste time putting you into a state that wasn't necessary.
Non-REM Sleep (Stages 1-2)
REM Sleep (Stages 3-4):
Our cardiovascular system goes through periods of dramatic acceleration and then dramatic deceleration. Our brain paralyzes our body so our mind can dream safely, so we don't dream that we can fly and then attempt to do this.
Our brain replays memory sequences we learn while awake, but approximately twenty times faster than when you're awake.
- Motor skills: Sleep doesn’t improve the places where we’re already good in terms of motor skills, sleep is intelligent – it finds friction points or motor skill deficits, and smooths them out/improves them.
Sleep and Drugs
Canabis is very good at blocking REM cycles . Marijuana certainly puts people to sleep quicker, but it's debatable whether it's naturalistic sleep.
Alcohol is also very good at blocking REM cycles. When an alcohol stops drinking alcohol, they'll often develop delirium tremens. The alcohol has been blocking REM sleep for so long, and the pressure for deep sleep has built up so much, it spilled over into wakefulness.
When we dream, we essentially become psychotic – we see things that aren’t there (hallucination), we believe things that couldn’t possibly be true (delusion), we have wildly fluctuating emotions, and we become confused about time/place .
In REM sleep, some parts of the brain become 30% more active compared to when awake .
- Parts of the brain regulating emotion ramp up, same with visual and motor parts of the brain .
- However, the prefrontal cortex (associated with rational thinking) gets shut off .
Why do we forget dreams?
- One theory of dreaming, is that it’s a reconstruction of fragments, and our cortex packages everything together and makes a good story – Matthew doesn’t really agree with this
- Not remembering dreams doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting your dreams . Often times, random things trigger the unlocking of a dream memory. The memory of the dream is available, but when we wake up, we lose the “IP address” of that memory – it’s available, just not accessible
In the brain, during REM sleep, the chemistry of the brain is very different . This specific balance of noradrenaline and acetylcholine change the input/output of information flow into the memory center of the brain
It’s more about output (generating dreams), than input (the saving of memories/dreams) .
- Noradrenaline (a stress chemical), the sister chemical of adrenaline, plummets to very low levels
- When you wake up, that’s when you have the spike of noradrenaline
- Another chemical, acetylcholine, goes up in REM sleep
This is very similar to a DMT trip – shortly afterwards it feels like a dream
Why do we dream? Why did it evolve evolutionary?
Perhaps it’s just a byproduct of REM sleep - Dr. Matthew Walker doesn’t agree with this because it’s metabolically demanding to have dreams in addition to REM sleep, and whenever mother nature burn calories it’s usually for a reason
The horrible effects caused by lack of sleep
Lack of sleep and physical performance
If you're getting 6 hours or less of sleep, your time to physical exhaustion drops by up to 30%.
- Lactic acid buildup
- Lungs ability to expire CO2 and inhale Oxygen
- Lower peak muscular strength and speed
- Higher risk of injury
We need 7-9 hours each night. Impairments in the brain below 7 hours each night are measurable.
Dr. Steven Gaulin
Researcher, Author, Professor
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
Matthew Walker, PhD