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10 problems with the sleep problem - TEDMED 2013

Question 1, TEDMED Sleep Challenge 2013

Ryan Hurd

on 14 March 2014

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Transcript of 10 problems with the sleep problem - TEDMED 2013

We don't get enough sleep, and we
all know it.
But changing our habits seems
really hard.
It can feel like the
world is against us.

Why Improving Sleep Health is a
Great Challenge

We literally don't know
what we're missing.
Actually the problem isn't just that we are not getting enough sleep.
Problem #2
Sleep Health is not a
kind of deal.
Problem #5
Self-inquiry means
paying attention to our personal beliefs and assumptions about sleep too.
Problem #6
Problem #8
We don't really understand how the sleeping brain works
Problem #9
The problem of sleeplessness has a lot of strands
that are all entangled with
one another.
Let's try to disentangle the strands,
and heal our collective bedhead.
the big

We have forgotten what it
feels like to be well rested,
relaxed, and firing on all
that's because we may feel less tired than we did when we first started cutting back on sleep.
welcome to the
new normal:
we are half of
what we used to be.
Problem #1
we aren't getting enough
quality sleep either.
Many of us are suffering from sleep interruptions every night.

Some of these are due to other health concerns that disturb our rest and limit the time spent in deeper, restorative levels of sleep.
But physically we are actually taxing our immune systems,
putting ourselves at risk for a lot of serious diseases,
and even shortening our life spans.
And psychologically we are grumpier, less optimistic, and have lower self-esteem and less creativity.
Everyone has unique
sleep needs
Which are hard to translate into public health policies.
So it's really important to
pay attention to our own needs,
track what works,
and share what we learn.
Because we all have attitudes about sleep that can be holding us back from getting the rest we deserve.
Some of these attitudes we learned from our parents,
others from our teachers, friends
and from TV.
Many of us really believe, deep down, that sleep is a luxury that we can't afford.

Leading me to the next big issue...
Sleep is cultural.
there's not one right way to do it.
in fact, sleep around the globe is remarkably flexible.
Our attitudes about sleep mirror our attitudes about life priorities
Unfortunately, the medical community has one of the worst working relationships to sleep,

making self-inquiry on an institutional level even more challenging.
and our scientific culture tends to ignore things we can't quantify.
Problem #10
Since we don't really understand sleep, we
doubly don't understand
the role of the dreaming
When we don't pay attention to our dreams, we miss a lot of opportunities for creativity, self-knowledge, innovation, and connectivity.
Problem #4
Because sleep issues are often red flags for larger health issues in our lives,
we kill the messenger
Problem #7
Even when we make changes with our families' own sleep health, we still suffer blowback from our colleagues and friends.
Problem #3
We also live in a time in unprecedented connectivity and convenience.
When we don't hit the off switch, our sleep suffers.
our kids are most at risk for this new kind of "junk sleep."
Dreams also can provide targeted imagery for improving relaxation -- potentially for treating insomnia as well as enhancing immune function in general.
Thank goodness it is precisely a holistic approach like TEDMED's that can see the problem from multiple perspectives and then encourage us to act from multiple levels:
as individuals,
as parents,
as bosses,
as medical professionals,
and as policy makers.
but at least there's coffee!
and then there's the excessive use of over-the-counter drugs and supplements to "temporarily" give us a boost.

It's a booming market, profiting on our addictions.
and from some older sources too
Prepared by
Ryan Hurd
Sleep Challenge 2014
Lyons, T. (2012). Dreams and Guided Imagery. Balboa Press.

Mumber, M. (2006). Integrative Oncology, Principles and Practices. Taylor and Francis.

Trakhtenberg, EC (2008).The effects of guided imagery on the immune system: a critical review.International Journal of Neuroscience. June; 118(6), pp.839-55.

Lengacher CA, Bennett MP, Gonzalez L, Gilvary D, Cox CE, Cantor A, Jacobsen PB, Yang C, Djeu J.(2008). Immune responses to guided imagery during breast cancer treatment. Biological Research for Nursing. Jan;9(3), pp.205-14.

Relaxation Techniques Overview at National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Sleep--and the prerequisite of relaxation--is a natural invitation to check in with ourselves physically and emotionally, but instead we often view sleep as a time to check out.
For more about World Sleep Day, go to
Full transcript