Here’s How Sleep Will Save Your Life.
What if we told you there was a prevent-all for chronic and terminal ailments, like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s?
That if you get enough of it, it will help regulate your appetite thus keeping you trim? That it will help keep pounding headaches and anxiety at bay?
AND that is 100% free and enjoyable.
Sleep. We don’t get enough of it, and now new science reports are emerging telling us that the cost of sleep deprivation is more than just a “groggy” morning in the office or a short temper. Sleep deprivation (and that means anything less than 7 hours a night) will make our lives shorter.A Sleep Expert Weighs In
Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Professor Matthew Walker (we can highly recommend it) does not offer any one answer to the perennial question “why do we need so much sleep?” However, it does certainly convince one to make a priority of getting enough shuteye.
According to Walker, we are living in a “catastrophic sleep epidemic” and governments should be taking this very seriously indeed. However, until that happens, Walker maintains that on an individual level we should have the same attitude towards getting enough shut-eye as one would have towards going to the gym (and if you are part of what we can assume is the majority of people, you will find hitting the hay a lot less gruelling!). We should be determined to set an 8-hour-a-night routine to rise and retire at exactly the same time every day.
Perhaps it sounds extreme, but according to Walker, once you are aware of the damage even one night of poor sleep can do it’s not hard to be convinced.
The Consequences Of Sleep Deprivation
The sleep expert asserts that after even one night of between 4 and 5 hours sleep our killer cells that attack cancer cells drop by a whopping 70%.
Our ability to fight the common cold is significantly reduced. He also confirms that sleep deprivation does contribute to weight gain (as we explored in a recent Inofia article here).
Drivers should also be wary; under five hours a sleep a night and you are 4.3 times more likely to be in a car accident. Reduce that to four hours sleep a night and that risk rises to a scary 11.5 times.
If you’ve ever been cranky after a late night this is because our amygdala (responsible for triggering anger and rage) is 60% more reactive after a bad night’s sleep.
Furthermore, Walker is convinced that good sleep is vital in the improvement of poor mental health, finding that those with bipolar disorder experience better mental health with good sleep.
A symptom of poor mental health is insomnia, however good quality sleep helps improve mental health so it’s obvious that the two go hand in hand!
Make Sure it Doesn’t Catch Up On You
Walker’s most concerning finding, nevertheless, is the link he makes between sleep deprivation and the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Put simply, Alzheimer’s is caused by a buildup of the toxic protein amyloid that kills brain cells. Thankfully, amyloid is naturally broken down during NREM or deep sleep. However, amyloid disrupts the ability to have deep sleep, which leads in to a very vicious cycle. The less deep sleep you have, the more amyloid builds up, so the less deep sleep you can gain, which leads to the further buildup of amyloid….
Throughout his book, Walker, unscientifically ponders the case of Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher who both famously took pride in operating on very little sleep, but both developed the disease in their later years.
Making Sleep a Priority
It’s certainly true that we live in a culture of “busy-ness”. Living in a society that expects us to stay past office hours at our desks and check our emails before we even get out of bed in morning, it can seem that sleep is for the weak. Increasing commuter times and the ability to work anywhere with an internet connection further blurs the line between work and play. No one wants to cut back on their leisure time or enjoying their family life, so sleep is often compromised.
However, it’s glaringly obvious that poor quality sleep equates to poor quality living.
If you’re struggling to get your eight hours a night, take a look at How to Get to Sleep, Fast!
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