#745 Sleep: The Miracle Drug!

Let’s Pop The Metaphorical Pills to Reduce the Real Ones

Why We Sleep is a life-changing kinda book. (You get it yet? Trust me, you’ll thank me!)

We’re going to spend a few more days mining a few more of the many gems from Matthew Walker’s masterpiece.

Today we’re going to flip open our virtual Heroic magazine to the kind of ad we’d allow in there.

Here it is:

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 food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and strokes, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?

← Wow!! I’ll take it! You?

Matthew continues: “While it may sound hyperbolic, nothing about this fictitious advertisement would be inaccurate. If this were a drug, many people will be disbelieving. Those who were convinced would pay large sums of money for even the smallest dose. Should clinical trials back up the claims, share prices of the pharmaceutical company that invented the drug would skyrocket.

Of course, the ad is not describing some miracle new tincture or a cure-all wonder drug, but rather the proven benefits of a full night of sleep. The evidence supporting these claims have been documented in more than 17,000 well-scrutinized and scientific reports to date. As for the prescription cost, well, there isn’t one. It’s free. Yet all too often, we shun the nightly invitations to receive our full dose of this all natural remedy–with terrible consequences.
Failed by the lack of public education, most of us do not realize how remarkable a panacea sleep truly is.

I always love it when the fundamentals are pitched like a miracle pill.

Jonathan Haidt’s similar ad for meditation comes to mind: “Suppose you read about a pill that you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment. Would you take it? Suppose further that the pill has a great variety of side effects, all of them good: increased self-esteem, empathy, and trust; it even improves memory. Suppose, finally, that the pill is all natural and costs nothing. Now would you take it? The pill exists. It’s called meditation.

Then there’s John Ratey’s magic from Spark: “I tell people that going for a run is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin because, like the drugs, exercise elevates these neurotransmitters. It’s a handy metaphor to get the point across, but the deeper explanation is that exercise balances neurotransmitters — along with the rest of the neurochemicals in the brain. And as you’ll see, keeping your brain in balance can change your life.

(btw: After shattering my arm, I couldn’t exercise/sweat for a month. Gah!!! I *really* missed my little daily dose of Ritalin and Prozac and I’m really happy to be popping those metaphorical pills again! Alas, I’m still months away from full burpees but I’ll take what I can get for now! 🤓)

So, yah. Sleep is a magic pill. So is meditation. And exercise.

The more of those metaphorical pills we pop, the less of the other stuff we’re likely to need, eh?

P.S. Actual sleeping pills? Matthew dedicates a chapter to outlining why they are a REALLY bad idea. They don’t help induce real, restorative sleep. Science says CBT-I is a much better option!!

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