Category Archives: Amount of Sleep

8 Great Reasons to Get More Sleep – Starting Tonight

Too many of us fight sleep, not wanting to miss anything. Unfortunately, as with most things in life, there are consequences when you don’t get enough sleep. Here are eight health reasons why you should turn off the light (and the TV and tablet) earlier tonight:

 

  1. Your immune system will work better.

We know that sleep is necessary for a normal functioning immune system. Numerous studies have shown that our immune system works best when we get adequate sleep. In fact, several studies have demonstrated poor responses to vaccines for influenza and hepatitis when subjects were sleep deprived.

 

  1. Your memory will improve, and your golf game may be better.

It has been fully demonstrated that sleep is necessary for memory consolidation. Actually, when research subjects got a good night’s sleep after learning new information, they performed much better on testing than those who did not sleep. This pertains to factual memory (also referred to as declarative memory), as well as procedural memory, such as learning to ride a bike or swing a golf club.

 

  1. You’ll feel better emotionally.

We know that chronically sleep-deprived people have a much higher incidence of anxiety disorders and depression. This is probably due to sleep’s critical role in emotional processing, which appears to mainly take place during REM (dream sleep) but is by no means confined only to this stage of sleep.

 

  1. Your brain will be “cleaner.”

As I point out in my book, Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day, it is during sleep that our brain performs several regenerative processes. The brain’s neuroplasticity – the ability to from new pathways and connections – is very much sleep dependent. Additionally, housekeeping chores, such as clearing out various neurotoxins that build up in the brain during the day, occur at a rate ten times greater during sleep.

 

  1. You’ll help repair and grow new tissue.

It is during sleep that we produce most of our growth hormone. In fact, this production is most closely linked to deep or slow-wave sleep. In children, this is intimately linked with their growth. In adults, it is very important in tissue repair. If you are a body builder or an athlete, it is crucial to get enough sleep to allow your musculoskeletal system to restore itself.

 

  1. You’ll help stabilize your blood sugar level.

We know that sleep-deprived people have a higher incidence of diabetes. This is because sleep deprivation leads to insulin resistance. As a result, insulin is unable to get into cells and exert its influence. In recent papers, the American Diabetes Association has been stressing the importance of sleep in preventing and treating diabetes.

 

  1. You just may lose weight.

Want to reduce that waistline? Get seven to eight hours of sleep. Insufficient sleep leads to excessive production of a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is an appetite-promoting hormone. It also impedes the production of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone.

 

  1. You may live longer.

Study after study has shown that those of us who chronically sleep less than seven hours a night do not live as long. We are far more likely to develop high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks. As a result, we have a shorter lifespan.

 

All of these reasons add up to one thing: We need to make sleep a priority. Unfortunately, some consider sleep to be a waste of time. Just the opposite is true. Sleep is critical for your emotional and physical well-being, and there is no substitute. Get more sleep, starting now.

8 Reasons to Make Sleep a Priority

1. Your immune system

We know that sleep is necessary for a normal functioning immune system. Numerous studies have shown that our immune system works best when we get adequate sleep. In fact, several studies have demonstrated poor responses to vaccines for influenza and hepatitis when subjects were sleep deprived.

2. Memory

It has been fully demonstrated that sleep is necessary for memory consolidation. Actually, when subjects are allowed a night’s sleep after learning new information, they perform much better on testing than those who did not. This pertains to factual memory, also referred to as declarative memory, as well as procedural memory such as learning to ride a bike or swing a golf club.

3. Your emotional well-being

We know that chronically sleep deprived individuals have a much higher incidence of anxiety disorders and depression. This is probably due to sleep’s critical role in emotional processing which appears to mainly take place during REM (dream sleep) but is by no means only confined to this stage of sleep.

4. Brain health

As I point out in my book Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day, it is during sleep that our brain performs several regenerative processes. The method of neuroplasticity, where the brain forms new pathways and connections, is very much sleep dependent. Additionally, housekeeping chores such as clearing out various neurotoxins that build up during the day occur at a rate ten times greater during sleep.

5. Tissue repair and growth

It is during sleep that we produce most of our growth hormone. In fact, this production is most closely linked to deep or slow wave sleep. In children, this is intimately linked with their growth. In adults, it is very important in tissue repair. If you are a body builder or an athlete, it is crucial to get enough sleep to allow your musculoskeletal system to restore itself.

6. Your blood sugar

We know that sleep deprived individuals have a higher incidence of diabetes. This is because sleep deprivation leads to insulin resistance. As a result, insulin is unable to get into cells and exert its influence. In recent papers, the American Diabetes Association has been stressing the importance of sleep in preventing and treating diabetes.

7. Weight

Want to reduce that waistline? Get seven to eight hours of sleep. Insufficient sleep leads to excessive production of a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is an appetite-promoting hormone. It also impedes the production of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone.

8. Your lifespan

Study after study has shown that those of us who chronically sleep less than seven hours do not live as long. We are far more likely to develop hypertension, strokes, and heart attacks. As a result, we have a shorter lifespan.

What is the take home message? We need to make sleep a priority. Unfortunately, some in our society consider sleep to be a waste of time. In reality, just the opposite is true. Sleep is necessary for our emotional and physical well-being, and there is no substitute.

Could Inadequate Sleep Cause Irreversible Brain Death?

Several recent studies have demonstrated the relationship of sleep to brain function. In particular, how we need sleep for normal brain function. In a recent study, a system called the glymphatic system, which serves to rid the brain of toxic substances, was found to be ten times more active during sleep than during wakefulness. In another study, myelin, a substance that insulates nerves and is destroyed by Multiple Sclerosis, was found to be produced at twice the rate during REM sleep.

Now comes a fascinating study revealing actual death of brain cells occurring with sleep deprivation. Published in the March issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine have demonstrated that prolonged wakefulness in mice was linked to loss of neurons in a critical area of the brain called the locus coeruleus (LC). This is an area of the brain that is vital for alertness and cognition.

The mice were observed following periods of normal sleep, short wakefulness, or extended wakefulness attempting to duplicate a shift workers schedule. They found that after several days of extended wakefulness the mice exhibited a 25% loss of neurons in the LC. Apparently, a protein called SIRT3, which protects the cell from oxidative stress and death, was depleted. However, after short periods of sleep loss, the levels of SIRT3 increased and were protective.

The authors point out that for years we have assumed a full recovery of cognitive abilities after short and long-term sleep loss. However, some studies have failed to show retrieval of these functions even after three days of recovery sleep. Now we have a study that demonstrates substantial brain cell death with prolonged periods of insufficient sleep.

Although this study involves mice and not humans, the areas of the brain and their function are quite similar. In addition, SIRT3 has been well demonstrated to function in a similar manner in humans. In fact, the authors intend to study autopsy specimens of the LC in deceased shift workers, as well as find out if turning up the production of SIRT3 in vulnerable areas of the brain can prove to be effective in preventing cell death.

I find this to be a very important study. It is one of the first to demonstrate that prolonged inadequate sleep may result in irreversible brain death. It may help us to explain permanent cognitive dysfunction in those who chronically go without enough sleep. It also goes a long way to debunk the myth that you can catch up on your sleep on your days off or on the weekend. As of now, over 33% of the population admits to sleeping less than seven hours, and many of them less than five. This study should help to demonstrate what a high price these people might be paying.