19 Adar B 5779 / Tuesday, March 26, 2019 | Torah Reading: Shemini
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Sleep for the Cure    

Sleep for the Cure

Our society’s health problems are spinning out of control. Nearly everyone has some physical or mental ailment. Every other commercial on TV is for some medicine…


Guys, I have a new obsession. His name is Dr. Kirk Parsley (he sounds so healthy!) and he’s my sleep guru. I’m sure he would be honored if he knew that.


Anyhow, I’m obsessed with knowing everything about sleep. It could be because I’m always tired and looking for excuses to get my kids to bed go to sleep earlier.


As much as we hate to admit it, sleep is important. It’s not just important. It’s super duper important. But our society doesn’t let us believe that it is. We look down on sleep, as if it’s for lazy people like my husband who can fall asleep in two seconds or less. G-d, I’m so jealous! I wish I could do that!


So let me tell you a little about Dr. Parsley before I tell you about what he says.


He is an M.D. who started his career as a Navy SEAL. He became an Undersea Medical Officer and helped develop a Naval sports medicine rehabilitation center. He completed his Navy residency in Hyperbarics and Diving Medicine.


His career as a doctor took an unexpected turn into sleep when he started realizing that many of his Seals were coming in complaining of strange symptoms. They complained of low energy, low sex drive, low motivation, and trouble sleeping.


He took blood tests and was shocked to find that the Seals had the same levels of testosterone as 85-year-old men, even those these guys were in their 20’s! They also had significantly raised insulin levels, to the point that they were pre-diabetic.


How could this be? These Seals trained like crazy, ate well, and were in fantastic shape.


Eventually he stumbled onto the one thing that all of the Seals had in common: lack of sleep.


Dr. Parsley started researching sleep and found that insufficient sleep contributes to a huge number of physical, mental, and emotional disorders.


Just one night of sleep deprivation (less than 8 hours) makes you wake up the next morning in a pre-diabetic state. Sustained short sleep (about 6 hours) makes you functionally diabetic.


Sleep has a huge impact on insulin sensitivity. Insulin is like food partitioning: it determines whether your food will be used as fuel or be stored as fat. When you don’t get enough sleep, guess what - your insulin is higher, which means you will store more calories as fat. This can lead to metabolic syndrome, which means your body will not use insulin properly.


Ultimately, metabolic syndrome can lead to diabetes.


Now are you ready for some shocking numbers?


Chronic sleep deficiency of just ONE hour per night less than the 8-9 hours recommended means you will add 14 pounds of body FAT in one year. Just one hour a night!


Chronic sleep deficiency of just ONE hour per night DECREASES your daily productivity by 1.5 hours.


Here’s the kicker: Chronic sleep deprivation can take 16 years off your life.


Just think about these facts for a minute.


According to Dr. Parsley, there’s nothing sleep doesn’t make you better at, and there’s nothing lack of sleep doesn’t make you worse at.


Insufficient sleep also contributes to hypertension, anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD, cancer, and every other ailment you can think of.


Oh, and listen to what he says about kids with ADD and ADHD. Parents, teachers, school staff, pay close attention!


He says it is irresponsible to diagnose a child with ADD or ADHD if the kid is not sleep adapted, meaning he gets at least 9 hours of sleep per night for one month.


Turns out symptoms of ADHD and symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation are nearly identical.




In both cases, the prefrontal cortex isn’t functioning properly. This area of the brain is not fully developed until adulthood. However, the symptoms of an abnormally functioning prefrontal cortex are aggravated in kids diagnosed with ADHD.


Symptoms include: lack of impulse control, difficulty coordinating complex behavior, self-discipline, being able to predict consequences of your actions, willpower, etc.


These symptoms could simply be the result of an overtired and overstimulated brain acting out.


Dr. Parsley was diagnosed with ADD in his early ‘30’s. This didn’t make sense to him. Once he started getting consistent good sleep, his ADD simply disappeared.


Parents of kids diagnosed with ADD or ADHD: are your kids getting at least 9 solid hours of good sleep?


Getting proper sleep also leads to making better nutritional choices and taking better care of your health.


Our society’s health problems are spinning out of control. Nearly everyone has some physical or mental ailment. It’s beyond insane. Every other commercial on TV is for some medicine to deal with some disease.


Diabetes is one of the most taxing diseases, not just physically, but financially as well. It is estimated that by the year 2025, an astounding 30% of the U.S. population will be diabetic. 30%! A diabetic spends $7-8 on health care for every $1 a non-diabetic spends.


Imagine if something as simple as getting a good night’s sleep could help reverse your declining health.


I encourage you to take Racheli’s 30-day sleep challenge. Get 30 days in a row of at least 8 hours of sleep. I especially encourage you parents out there to make sure your kids get the sleep their bodies and brains need. The only exception is if you’re a mom of little babies. Otherwise, don’t tell me you can’t do it!

You can, if you really want to.


How to get good sleep:


Set an alarm to begin your bedtime routine. Include dimming the lights once the sun goes down and taking the blue light out of your computer and phone screens.


Stop eating 2-3 hours before bed. Hormonal changes occur with digestion. Eating makes your blood glucose drop and your insulin spike, which means you make your adrenals release cortisol, and this causes you to wake up or have a non-restful sleep. Not to mention it makes you wake up in a pre-diabetic state.


No alarm clock in visible sight. If you wake up and look at the clock, you’ll start doing mental math and wake yourself up.


Black out the room. Any light interferes with the deep sleep your body needs.


I hope this article encouraged you to start taking your sleep more seriously. We as a society need to stop looking down on sleep as a weakness and start looking at it as the foundation for our health, happiness, and success.



* * *

Write to me at racheli@breslev.co.il and let me know if you’re going to do this life-saving challenge. I’d love to hear how you feel!

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