4 Reasons Meir Kryger Says Sleep is Vital to a Better Life
If you’re looking for professional advice about sleeping, Dr. Meir Kryger is the man to go to.
He is a doctor and professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and has over 40 years of experience studying the science of sleep.
He literally wrote the book on sleep — the sleep medicine textbook to be exact. He is the editor of the definitive resource on sleep in medical school, The Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (5th edition). In addition, he has over 200 peer-reviewed articles on the topic.
Dr. Meir Kryger explains why sleep is vital to a better life and gives stern cautions on what happens if you don’t make sleep a priority.
Read on to learn some of the key takeaways from his Google Talk on the mystery of sleep and how to avoid sleep disorders for a better quality of life.
What’s This Meir Kryger Google Talk All About?
In this Dr. Meir Kryger Google Talk, you can learn the basics of why sleep is so important.
He details the effects of poor sleep on performance, health, general well-being, and risk for sleep disorders.
He usually begins his talks with a detailed case study. In this talk, he references former President Bill Clinton who was a notoriously tired president, and once commented to a friend,
“Every important mistake I’ve made in my life, I’ve made because I was too tired.”
Dr. Kryger uses this example, not to be pejorative, but rather to show just how ignorant everyone is about the importance of sleep.
After recounting a story of one of his patients with sleep apnea whose doctor provided completely incorrect advice to her which endangered both hers and her unborn child’s lives, Kryger comments that,
“The public generally doesn’t know enough about sleep, and the same thing is true, by the way, about doctors. The average doctor who graduates from medical school is lucky if he or she gets even one or two hours of sleep [per night] in all four years of medical school. So, the average doctor really doesn’t know a lot about sleep.”
4 Reasons Sleep is So Crucial According to Meir Kryger
If you’ve been sleeping badly or suspect you may have one of many sleep disorders, there are plenty of good reasons to seek some solutions now.
Here are the four reasons sleep is so important, outlined by a major authority on sleep, Dr. Meir Kryger.
1. Lack of sleep will kill you
One thing sleep researchers discovered 20-30 years ago was that if you don’t sleep, you will die.
Dr. Kryger states simply that sleep is,“as necessary as the water we drink, the air we breathe and the food we eat to function and live at our best… [sleep is] the key to health, performance, safety, and quality of life.”
In fact, he tells the story of a recent high-profile tragic death of a Bank of America intern who died after being awake for three straight days. There was no other explanation for the death besides a severe lack of sleep.
In lab rodents that are sleep deprived, scientists observe all sorts of immediate changes, and eventually, the animals waste away, develop sores all over their bodies and die.
Some pragmatic advice would be to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
The risk of death is a pretty convincing reason why sleep is something you should care about.
2. Disrupting your natural sleep system can lead to major sleep problems
According to Dr. Kryger, your sleep system is determined by two factors: sleep/wake restorative process (balances sleep and wakefulness) and circadian biological clock (regulates the timing of sleep and wakefulness).
The sleep/wake process can be summarized as, the more time you spend awake, the sleepier you get.
He explains the circadian clock like this,
“Inside our brains, we have a clock that actually keeps track of time and it regulates the timing of sleep and wakefulness.”
When these two systems work together, you have varying states of alertness over a 24-hour period.
“That’s how sleep is regulated – two different systems, one depends on how much you’ve slept and the other one depends on your biological clock.”
And here’s where it becomes interesting. According to Dr. Kyger, all of our cells have a clock, but scientists don’t yet know how the master clock in our brain specifically relates to all of them.
“It turns out that not only does the brain, or the cells in the brain have a built-in clock, so does every single cell of your body. Every cell of your body has the genetic information in it to actually have a clock function. So, all cells have a biological rhythm. So, the liver at night doesn’t work the same way as the liver during the daytime.”
But what does that mean for you?
As Dr. Kryger so bluntly puts it,
“If you have a mutant clock, you become very abnormal. And there are many conditions that can cause your clock to become confused or to malfunction.”
By mutant clock, he means a clock that either you are forcing to malfunction or it’s malfunctioning for some other medical reason out of your control.
If that abnormal sleep clock persists, it can lead to serious health issues including congestive heart failure, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, obesity, and others.
3. Consolidated, restorative sleep is important
Kryger begins by explaining the normal sleep cycle.
You enter deep sleep first for a period of roughly 90 minutes. After that comes the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase of sleep.
Here’s what happens,
“After about 90 minutes of being asleep, we go into what’s called rapid eye movement sleep. And rapid eye movement sleep is a very, very interesting phase because this is when we dream and we are also paralyzed during REM which means we cannot respond physically to what we’re actually dreaming.”
You need this restorative sleep for:
- Functioning in a safe, efficient, and effective way
- Cognitive, social, and physical performance
- Emotional enhancements and relating well with others
- Learning and memory consolidation
- Prevention of health problems and optimal health
He goes on to explain that science clearly shows,
“if you don’t sleep enough, your cognitive function quickly becomes abnormal.”
Over half of all adults say that sleepiness makes it hard to concentrate, solve problems and make decisions at work.
Additionally, if you don’t get enough restorative sleep, your memory will be impacted.
“What happens during sleep is that your memory is put onto a hard drive –in other words, the volatile memory is stored permanently.”
If you are getting poor sleep, you will likely have memory problems.
4. Sleep deprivation is unsafe
One of the aspects of sleep deprivation that doesn’t get much attention is its relationship to safety.
The culture of sleep deprivation that has developed in the West is dangerous.
“If you’ve studied sleep, 3-4 hours [per night] is very scary”
Safety is seriously compromised if you aren’t getting enough sleep. Dr. Kryger outlines some pretty chilling statistics about the rate of accidents among the sleep-deprived.
There are 100,000 sleep-related car crashes per year; 1500 fatalities and 71,000 injuries result. 51% of adults report driving drowsy and 17% fell asleep at the wheel.
And that’s just safety related to driving.
People with sleep deprivation are more likely to make poor daily life decisions, including those surrounding safety. In the office alone, 2% of employees report becoming injured due to daytime sleepiness.
There is a fairly high-profile story of a workplace collapse and serious injury from Ariana Huffington.
Furthermore, if you develop more serious sleep-related conditions, you could hurt your bed partner while they are sleeping.
Dr. Meir Kryger is a world-renowned expert in the field of sleep. But you don’t have to be a pro on the science of slumber to understand these four points.
If you’re feeling sleep deprived or have been having sleep issues, his four reasons should give you some motivation to seek treatments and lifestyle changes to live a better, safer more productive life.
Welcome to Snoozerville! I’m Dr. Alex Hartley, your guide to the world of restful sleep. With a Ph.D. in Sleep Science and years of experience as a sleep therapist, I’ve dedicated my life to understanding and improving sleep quality. My passion lies in uncovering the mysteries of sleep and sharing practical, science-backed advice to help you achieve the best rest possible. Beyond my academic pursuits, I’m an advocate for mindfulness and relaxation techniques, which I incorporate into my daily routine. At Snoozerville, I aim to transform your nights, combining the latest research with easy-to-implement tips. Whether you’re a chronic insomniac or just looking to improve your sleep hygiene, join me on this journey towards peaceful, rejuvenating sleep.