If we want to retire with enough savings to live comfortably then we need to have a strategy. We must put our strategy into place many years ahead of time and then stick to it until retirement. If we want to get into a good college, grow our business, become a success at virtually anything, we need to create the habits and behaviors which will move us gradually toward our goal. Health is no different. The AIL strategy starts by understanding that optimal health (within the limits of each of our genetic capability) is dependent upon five behaviors which must become incorporated into our daily lives as habits. These five behaviors, which I call the Five PIllars of Health, are as follows:
1) Proper nutrition
2) Specific supplementation
3) Regular exercise
4) Restorative sleep
5) Stress management
All is not just a strategy for longevity, it reflects my deeply held conviction that the quality of one’s life is as important as longevity itself. In this essay I will discuss the most overlooked pillar of health: sleep.
Sleep: The Most Commonly Overlooked Pillar of Health
Until the middle of the last century relatively little was known about sleep. Generally considered to be the time when we ‘recharge our batteries,’ few doctors and even fewer lay-persons have sufficient understanding of what sleep is and the essential role that it plays in our health and well-being. Immune function, brain function, tissue healing, regulation of body fat, hunger, and mood are all dependent upon sleep–deep, restorative sleep. Yet up to 70% of adults do not get enough of this vital restoration to move them in the right direction along the Health Continuum (see previous blog posts for more on the concept of the Health Continuum).
Only recently have issues like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome become part of the general health conversation between doctors and patients, and these conditions form just the tip of a giant iceberg which includes diminished sex drive, low levels of testosterone, obesity, compulsive eating, depression and anxiety, chronic infections, and generalized inflammation–the underlying cause of most chronic diseases–all of which can be linked directly to lack of restorative sleep.