In this Internet era, you can outsource almost every activity to the web — whether it's banking, grocery shopping, or even doctor visits via telemedicine.
However, as much as digital technology has replaced many services previously done in person, there are some activities I cannot ever see being replaced by a computer. There are just some areas you can't "hack."
Most important among them: sleep.
From a health perspective, sleep remains a vital primitive need that we share with all creatures. It's an opportunity to repair damage done during the day and begin each day with a fresh supply of DNA, mitochondria, antioxidants, and detoxification pathways.
If you're cutting corners on pillow time, you're unlikely to reach your goal of a cleaner, leaner body — no matter how many juice cleanses you do.
Many studies in large populations of adults have identified getting seven hours of sleep to be a health goal as important as nutrition, fitness, and stress management. Indeed, sleep is the foundation of success for those other three pillars of wellness.
Now, new research shows that maintaining a regular sleep schedule might be even more important than previously thought. In fact, catching up on sleep on the weekends, as many of us tend to do, might be to no advantage at all.
Scientists studied more than 400 healthy adults and had them wear a digital device to track sleep times. They identified the midpoint of subjects' sleep cycle during workdays and off days. Going to bed late and sleeping in on some days, such as during the weekend, or what's called "social jetlag," would shift the midpoint to later in the night.
So what were the consequences of moving that midpoint to later than on most other days? After adjusting for many variables, the researchers found that shifting sleep times resulted in: