Sleep your way to better health!
Do you get less than 6 hour sleep?
Do you think that 6 hours or less provides a sufficient amount of sleep?
If you said yes to either of these, unfortunately, you could be in trouble.
But why is sleep so important?
Well, the truth is we don’t really know. We have understood for thousands of years the 3 basic drives for life, to eat, to drink, to procreate. The fourth basic drive, to sleep, continues to elude science.
If we look at sleep from an evolutionary perspective it only adds more confusion. When you sleep you cannot gather food, socialise, find a mate to reproduce or nurture your offspring. We would have also been vulnerable to predators. Based on that, you would think there would be a strong evolutionary drive to prevent sleep!
This is how important sleep is…
Matthew Walker, an expert on sleep, believes that sleep is profoundly complex, offering an abundance of benefits that service our brains and our bodies. Every organ benefits from sleep, every cell in the body, every process in the brain enhanced. Within the brain, sleep enhances our ability to learn, memorize and make logical decisions. It is fundamental in our pyschological health, recalibrating our emotional brain circuits.
When we sleep, there is an active sewage system that kicks into gear. This allows the bresking down and cleansing of toxins that build up in the day from all the different metabolic processes that happen in the brain. The more sleep we get, the more of these toxins can be broken down and cleared. One toxin in particular, a sticky protein called beta-amyloid, is a notorious precursor in Alzheimers disease. A recent study showed that those who were sleep deprived showed a significant increase in the amount of this protein, which the brain finds difficult to break down once it is deposited.
As we age, it is natural for our testosterone levels to marginall drop. However, in men who get on average 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night, their testosterone levels match men 10 years older than them.
People who on average sleep only 4 hours a night have a 70% reduction in anti-cancer natural killer T cells that target malignant cancer cells.
When daily light savings time kicks in and we lose 1 hour sleep, there is on average a 24% increase in heart attacks. When we gain an extra hour on day light savings, there is a 21% reduction in heart attacks.
When it comes to athletic performance, there is again a huge impact determined by the amount of sleep. Those who only sleep 6 hours are 30% less efficient than those who slept 7 to 9 hours.
Consistently sleeping less than 6 hours a night destroys your immune system, doubling your chance of cancer. It plays havoc with insulin and blood sugar dysregulating insulin balance and blood glucose. It increases the chances of cardiovascular disease, stroke and congestive heart failure. It greatly increases pyschiatric disorders. It has been proven that the shorter you sleep, the shorter your life span, with also the quality of that life span significantly diminished.
The World Health Organisation has declared a asleep loss epidemic throughout the western world, with scientists lobbying doctors to start prescribing more sleep to their patients. This, however, is not through the use of sleeping pills. Catching up on sleep at the weekend is not a viable option for recovering from a sleep deprived week either.
So, make sure you get your 8 hours of sleep a night, every night!