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Sleep When You're Dead?

Sleep When You’re Dead?

Written by
July 15, 2015
Updated June 17, 2016

In a recent Performance Podcast, Robert Dos Remedios asked himself the cliché question, “If you only had one exercise to do the rest of your life what would you pick?”

He said, “Sleep.”

In our culture sleep seems to be synonymous with lazy. Yet, how many Americans are sleep deprived and over-stressed? But hey, they’re chasing that dream. Git R Done…but there will most likely be a price to pay at the end of the rampage.

I am not a big promoter of balance. I believe balance is unattainable and as successful human beings we are always tipping the scale of balance in one area of our lives or another. Let’s face it, if one of my wife’s bosses asks her to get a two day project done on Thursday night, she can’t say that won’t work with my balanced lifestyle.

Yet, when she asks for 8 weeks off to go to a Yoga Teacher Certification in Central America – they better say “Yes” or I am going to be walking down to that office with more than just a powerblock and a couple Sandbags.

So to think that you will always be getting 10 hours of “baby” sleep is unrealistic unless you are a professional athlete or professional college student and recovery is part of your job. For the rest of us, sleep may be erratic, but we should try to keep it as consistent as possible.

Back to this baby idea – we love to post pictures or videos of babies squatting or breathing, but what about how kids sleep as they grow? I remember being a little kid and trying to shake my head to keep myself up past 8:30pm to watch the Packers on Monday Night Football.

It didn’t matter how many ridiculous passes Brett Favre threw off his back foot, my body was shutting it down. As we get older, we can override this sequence of events through our habits and lifestyle choices, but naturally we should be going to bed before 10:30.

The ideal sleep time of at least 8 hours is posted all over the place. The model range of 10pm-6am is also hard to argue with, but many people don’t know the WHY behind these numbers – so I’ll give you a few bullets.

The pituitary gland, or the “master” endocrine organ, is highly affected by a lack of sleep. And sleep loss has the ability to dramatically affect the entire endocrine system. So if you care about things like your Thyroid function, Growth, or Reproduction – you should get some shut eye.

● Generally during sleep our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) activity is decreased and our parasympathetic nervous system activity is increased. Most of us in today’s society live in a very sympathetic driven state, so you should shut  this bad boy down at night.

● From 11pm-1am, the adrenal glands do the majority of their recovery and recharging. The gallbladder also dumps most of its toxins during this time period. If you are awake, these toxins will back up in the liver.

● Sleep recharges our immune systems which is why people with better sleep patterns are probably more resilient to the bug that has hit the rest of the office.

● Sleep promotes a balance in our satiety hormones and thus helps control our hunger more naturally.

● Sleep deficiency is also linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Ummm. Yea.

So the next time you hear Lil Wayne say, “sleep when you’re dead”, remember that Lil Wayne may not be the best model for human health and he also doesn’t know how to use apostrophes. Goodnight.

Onnit Academy (1)


1. “The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Hormones and Metabolism.” Medscape. N.p., n.d. Web.
2. Davis, Reed. “Lecture 5 DRESS for Success.” Functional Diagnostic Nutrition. Lecture.
3. “How Much Sleep Is Enough?” – NHLBI, NIH. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

Ben House, PhD, CN, FDN, fNMT, NCSF, USAW LI SPC has worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Nutritionist since 2006. House is currently the owner and founder of Functional Medicine Costa Rica. House was accepted to medical school without an undergraduate degree, but elected to finish his degree and pursue a career in the health and fitness sector. He is currently practicing Functional Medicine after finishing his PhD and a multi-year metabolic health study within the Nutritional Sciences Department at UT-Austin. House has numerous publications in peer reviewed scientific journals such as The International Journal of Obesity, has presented his work at multiple international conferences, and lectures regularly on health and nutrition at The University of Texas.
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