How loss reveals value

Two-thirds of adults in developed nations are sleep-deprived. Why is that so?

Neuroscience professor and sleep expert Matthew Walker suggests that this is due to our lack of understanding of sleep itself. For centuries, scientists haven’t been able to provide a convincing explanation for why we actually need to sleep for a third of the day.

All of this changed in recent decades, when Walker and his colleagues studied people who were deprived of sleep. Routinely sleeping for less than six or seven hours impairs the immune system, doubles the risk of cancer and increases the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease. Inadequate sleep disrupts blood sugar levels, blocks coronary arteries and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and congestive heart failure. Sleep deprivation also triggers weight gain.

It turns out that sleep was silently holding all of those vital physiological processes in place. The German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer quoted how only loss teaches us about the value of things. Only when we studied sleep deprived people did we come to realize the value of sleep.

How do you know if an employee on your team is valuable? Wait for them to go on a long vacation. How do you know if milk suits your digestive system? Avoid milk for two months. How do you know if your Instagram account is serving you well? Stay away from it for forty days. How do you know if your work is valuable? Stop doing it, and you will be missed.

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