Sleep affects Health

  • How lack of sleep affects health. 

    Sleep deprivation has a catastrophic impact on our health,
    work productivity and childrenís education.  Nearly 2/3 of Americans do not get a full eight hours of sleep per night.

    Sleep deprivation is fast becoming a public health challenge.  Every disease that is killing us in developed nations, from cancer, Alzheimerís, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, stroke, even suicide - they all have significant and causal links to insufficient sleep. 

    Short sleep equals a shorter life. The link is actually many fold.  In the brain it creates a toxic buildup of a sticky protein coating, which is related to Alzheimerís.  In the body it demolishes your immune system, if you are not getting enough sleep.  It also activates stress chemistry that leads to cardiovascular disease, and an increase in cancer related molecules.

    You also want to eat more when you are not getting sufficient sleep. You gain weight more quickly, even if you exercise.  Donít go to bed too full, and donít go to bed too hungry.  Sleep is the foundation upon which diet and exercise sit.

    One-third of adults take naps.  Naps are all are not always a good thing. Sleep is not like the bank. You canít accumulate a debt, and then pay it off either by napping or oversleeping on the weekend. Naps also can be dangerous in the sense that during the day, the longer we are awake we build up sleepiness, which is good and healthy; it means we will fall asleep and stay asleep at night. But if you nap during the afternoon, it is almost like a valve on a pressure cooker.  You release some of that sleepiness, so then it makes it that much more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Try to make naps regular, but donít nap after 3 pm.  If you are struggling with sleep in the evening, or if you canít nap regularly, donít nap at all. But naps do have some benefits to them. NASA's research showed that naps can improve work productivity by about 34% and overall alertness by about 50%, if they are regular naps.

    Regarding sleeping pills,
    they do not produce naturalistic sleep. The sedative hypnotics drugs cause sedation, which is not sleep. You are simply removing consciousness and not producing naturalistic sleep. In addition, they are related to a higher risk of mortality or death, and a higher risk of cancer, too.

    Five key tips to help you get as much sleep as you should:

    1. Keep it regular.  Go to bed at the same time every day and wake up at the same time, no matter what.

    2. Darkness.  We live in a dark-deprived society, so at night dim the lights, only put half of the lights on. Limit screen time and allow that melatonin hormone to build up and get you to sleep.

    3. Keep it cool, at 65-67 degrees. Your body needs to drop its temperature to get to sleep, and you can help it to do that.

    4. Walk it out.  Donít stay in bed if you have been awake, because then at that point your brain learns the association between your bedroom being about being awake.  Many people will say, I fall asleep on the couch with the television, but when I get into my bed, I am wide awake, and I donít why.Ē  It is because you have learned the association of the bedroom being about wakefulness. Get out of bed and go to a different room with a dark and dim light.  Read a book, and only return when you are sleepy, and then you will relearn the association between your bed equaling sleepiness

    5. Avoid caffeine after 2 pm, and no nightcap. Alcohol is probably one of the most misunderstood chemicals. It is also a sedative. You are just knocking yourself out.  It is not naturalistic sleep, and it also fragments your sleep.  You wake up many more times throughout the night, and it also blocks your dream sleep.

      Dr. Matthew Walker has studied sleep and published more than 100 scientific studies in 20 years. (Source:  ďWhy We Sleep, Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams,Ē by Scientist Matt Walker, PhD, teaching neuroscience and psychology at University of California Berkeley, ďResting Uneasy,Ē CBS This Morning, October 11, 2017)

    6. A new study says 45% of American workers get less than 7 hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep is tied to less productivity, accidents and health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and depression.  There are 6 lost work days per year in individuals who sleep less than 6 hours a night, resulting in missing work or working at less than ideal levels.  Risk of death increases 13% for people who average less than 6 hours a night.

      If people want to increase their sleep at night, the researchers recommend physical activity during the day. They also suggest limiting the use of electronics before bedtime, and having a consistent wake-up time every day.   ("Americans' lack of sleep harms health, costs economy hundreds of billions," Dr. Jon LaPook, CBS Evening News, Nov. 30, 2016; and Rand Corp Report)

    7. Having enough sleep actually helps us work better during the day.  The key is to get regular sleep - go to bed at the same time, and get up at the same time in the morning. 

      Signs of too little sleep are when:
      • You can't concentrate during the day
      • You can't focus
      • You are feeling fatigue
Daily Sleep Recommendation:
16 - 18 hrs           Newborns
11 - 12 hrs           Pre-school
at least 10 hrs     School-aged Children
9 - 10 hrs.            Teens
7 - 8 hrs               Adults (including the Elderly)
                            (Source:  Nat'l Heart, Lung & Blood Institute)
Our sleep is negatively affected by being overweight, drinking sugary sodas, drinking caffeine and alcohol, and not dong enough exercise.  We need to change our lifestyle. (source:  "Restless Nation," Dr. David Agus, CBS This Morning, December 1, 2016) 
  • Sleep is one thing you cannot store up or save up, and sleeping for 10 hours in one night will not make up for weeks of not sleeping enough.  In fact, after 10 hours of sleep, people's reaction times and ability to focus were worse than if they didn't sleep at all. 

    Instead of trying to play catch up, it is better to get into a good routine and get in the habit of sleeping as much as possible.  Some ways to establish a routine before going to sleep to prepare your body for a good night's rest, are scheduling regular times to go to sleep and wake up, even on days off; removing all light and noise from your room when you sleep; and even wearing dark glasses before sleep to help your body fall asleep faster.  (Source:  2010 Harvard Medical School study and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine) 
Statistics
  • Most Americans are sleep deprived. 
    • 38% of Americans unintentionally fall asleep during the day. 
    • 30% get less than 6 hours of sleep a night.
    • 4.7% fall asleep while driving
      (Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, LiveScience.com, and Mental Health Daily.com)