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6 TED Talks to Inspire You to Sleep

Back in the 1980s, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had supposedly said, “sleep is for wimps.”

Do you agree with her?
Have you ever thought sleep is for losers?
And 7-8 hours of sleep at night will keep you from achieving success in life?

After four decades of extensive research, we finally have a scientific argument against her statement. 

Oh wait! Not just one argument! Hundreds and thousands of arguments.

It’s time for you to know what matters, and what does not. Especially when it’s related to your health.

Let’s clear every inch of doubt from your mind.

And what better way to learn and get inspired than a TED Talk.

If you didn’t know, TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. They organize independently run TEDx events to help share ideas in communities around the world.

It’s been over 5 years that I’ve been hooked to TED for new ideas and inspiration.

I absolutely love the platform and would definitely recommend you check it out if you haven’t already. They feature talks by people whose ‘ideas are worth spreading’ with the world, in almost every important topic.

Sleep is a very important topic which more people need to take notice of in the modern day. 

Watch these 6 TED talks to inspire yourself and reaffirm your faith in your choice to prioritize sleep for a better life.


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1. Why do we Sleep? by Russell Foster

This entertaining and witty talk by Russell Foster will take you through all the major indicators why we sleep and the miracles it can cause.

An average human sleeps for 1/3rd of his lifetime. With this in mind, his approach to the importance of sleep from a neuroscience perspective is eye-opening.

He shares three theories about why we need sleep, introducing his insight into how sleep enhances our abilities to come up with solutions to any problem.

He discusses how sleep deprivation affects our health and busts some myths regarding how much sleep we need at different ages. 

Lastly, he shares insights from his research studies about the relation and significance of sleep with mental health and illness.

Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist of circadian neuroscience and the Head of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNi).
He has co-authored popular science books on circadian rhythms, Rhythms of Life: The Biological Clocks that Control the Daily Lives of Every Living Thing, Seasons of Life: The Biological Rhythms That Enable Living Things to Thrive and Survive and Sleep: a Very Short Introduction.

Why You Should Watch this Talk:

  • To learn why you need sleep for your health
  • To understand how lack of sleep can affect you
  • To learn about the relation between sleep and mental health

2. Sleep is your Superpower by Matt Walker

Matt Walker delivers a powerful (and bit overwhelming) talk on the science of sleep.

He opens his talk by sharing some mind-boggling facts about how a lack of sleep can affect our reproductive system. He then takes us through the good and the dangerous things that are controlled by your sleeping behaviors.

He shares:

How sleep helps in memory and learning
How sleep is associated with aging and Alzheimer’s disease
How lack of sleep can affect your heart health and immunity
How sleep impacts your genetic code
And two significant tips to sleep better at night

Matthew Walker is a scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and founder/director of the Center for Human Sleep Science.
He is also the author of the International Bestseller, New York Times Bestseller, and the Sunday Times Bestseller in the UK, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams.

Why You Should Watch this Talk:

  • To learn the importance of sleep in memory and learning
  • To understand how lack of sleep affects your immunity
  • To realize the detrimental impacts of lack of sleep on aging and mental health

3. Sleep-Engineering: Improve Your Life By Manipulating Your Sleep by Penny Lewis

In this talk, neuroscientist Penny Lewis shares the very interesting relationship between sleep and memory. She uncovers the science and process behind the common phrase ‘Sleep on it.’

She takes us through the process of how long-term memories are formed during sleep through the process of reactivation. 

She introduces the techniques through which this process of memory consolidation can be enhanced by manipulating the brain waves during deep sleep. With the help of this, one’s emotional response to a traumatic memory can be improved.

Penny (Penelope) Lewis is a neuroscientist at the University of Manchester, where she runs the Neuroscience and Psychology of Sleep (NaPS) lab. Her research investigates the role of sleep in strengthening and altering memories and the ways people can use this to their advantage.
She is the author of The Secret World of Sleep and has written for a variety of popular science publications, including New Scientist, Scientific American, and BBC Focus.

Why You Should Watch the Talk:

  • To understand how sleep helps in memory formation
  • To learn the importance of deep sleep

4. How to Succeed? Get More Sleep by Arianna Huffington

In this quick talk, Arianna Huffington makes a powerful statement to sleep. She shares her personal journey with how she rediscovered the importance of sleep and why anyone should prioritize sleep to achieve success in their life and work.

Arianna Huffington is the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, the founder of The Huffington Post, and the author of 15 books, including, most recently, Thrive and The Sleep Revolution.

Why You Should Watch the Talk:

  • To take inspiration from one of the most successful women in the business world and motivate yourself to prioritize sleep

5. Learn the perfect hormonal time to sleep, eat, and have sex by Michael Breus

Dr. Michael Breus presents his findings from research and clinical studies about chronotypes in this talk. He shares why our chronotypes matter. Why finding your chronotype is important to getting a quality sleep at night and better productivity during daytime. 

He takes us through how treatment for one of his patients led to his research with chronotypes.

And the four distinct types of chronotypes he identified along with their ideal timings to sleep, eat, exercise, drink coffee and have sex.

Dr. Michael Breus a.k.a ‘The Sleep Doctor’ popularised four different categories of chronotypes after findings from several research studies in his book The Power of When.

Why You Should Watch the Talk:

  • To learn about chronotypes and how it controls your daily life routines

6. One more reason to get a good night’s sleep by Jeff Iliff

In this scientific talk, Jeff Iliff shares one of the most critical ways the brain keeps itself healthy.
How the cerebral fluid is able to get rid of the brain waste is astounding and a work of brilliant design.
Through his research, Jeff points out that our brain can only clean itself during sleep. And how chronic sleep deprivation may become one of the precursors to Alzheimer’s disease.

Jeff is the Associate Director for Research at the VISN 20 NW Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) and a Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and in Neurology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Why You Should Watch the Talk:

  • To learn how the brain cleans itself of its toxic waste
  • To understand how sleep deprivation can make you susceptible to mental diseases like Alzheimer’s

I hope these five TED talks help to convince you to prioritize sleep and commit yourself to following healthy sleep habits for life.


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