To Sleep, Perchance to Dream…The Critical Importance of Getting Enough Shut-Eye

We have all heard the doctors’ recommendations…8 glasses of water a day, walk 30 minutes a day, get 8 hours of sleep a night…but it seems that the sleep request/command is the one least adhered to and possibly the most important to our health. We all know that we feel better when we are well-rested…your peers may even tell you that you look younger, better, more energetic when you are rested, whether that is because you are making getting enough sleep a habit or you are just back from vacation.

 

The problem is that too many people are burning the candle at both ends and even melting the middle and this has now been shown to have a negative effect even at the gene level. We are connected to work 24/7 and there are flashing lights and beeps throughout the night. Or, we just aren’t getting into bed at a reasonable hour because of tv, web surfing, or work.

 

The new research shows that we need to make getting more sleep a priority, which just may have positive effects on other parts of our life as well. If not enough sleep negatively effects our metabolism, more sleep will improve it. If we are procrastinating on projects and then working late into the night, better time management and jumping right into that which we would otherwise put off will make us work more efficiently and feel better about the project and ourselves. (And good self-esteem is never wasted!!).

 

Think about how you can make getting enough rest a priority in your household. While I get up at the insane hour of 4 am to start work, I do make certain that I am in bed in time to clock in enough rest. I turn my cell phone off (those that may need to reach me have the house number and everyone else can wait until 4 am). I sleep with those silly eye covers (and when I don’t I absolutely notice a difference) so that my brain doesn’t register the DVD player clock and the cable box clock and any other blinking LED light when it should be resting. I try to unwind with herbal tea before I go to sleep. I meditate when I wake up. Is it all perfect? No, of course not…just doing my best with what I have, but I have to say that it IS working for the most part!! Good luck! Let us know what works for you! (Below is an article regarding the recent sleep research). Sweet dreams!

 

 

Sleep Deprivation May Disrupt Your Genes

Healthday // Healthday

By Randy Dotinga HealthDay Reporter

 

 

MONDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) — Far more than just leaving you yawning, a small amount of sleep deprivation disrupts the activity of genes, potentially affecting metabolism and other functions in the human body, a new study suggests.

 

It’s not clear how your health may be affected by the genetic disruption if you don’t get enough sleep. Still, the research raises the possibility that the effects of too little sleep could have long-lasting effects on your body.

 

“If people regularly restrict their sleep, it is possible that the disruption that we see . .. could have an impact over time that ultimately determines their health outcomes as they age in later life,” said study co-author Simon Archer, who studies sleep at the University of Surrey, in England.

 

The study was published online Feb. 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 

At issue is how a lack of enough sleep affects the human body. While it’s obvious that people get tired when they don’t sleep, scientists have only recently started to understand how sleep deprivation affects more than the brain, said Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of the division of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston. Research has suggested that sleep is important all the way down to the level of cells, said Czeisler, who was not involved in the new study.

 

For the study, researchers recruited 26 volunteers who spent a week getting a normal amount of sleep (8.5 hours) and a week getting less than normal (5.7 hours). The participants were still able to enter periods of deep sleep.

 

The researchers then studied the genes of the participants in blood samples and found that numerous genes, including some related to metabolism, became less active.

 

So what does that mean for the body? “We have no idea,” Archer said, “but these effects are not minor.” They appear to be similar to those that separate normal from abnormal types of tissue in the body, he said.

 

Archer said the next step will be to investigate how a lack of sleep affects the body in the long term and to figure out whether some kinds of people are more vulnerable to sleep deprivation’s negative effects on health.

 

For his part, Czeisler praised the study and said it raises the prospect of a blood test that will tell doctors if a patient’s body is being affected because he or she isn’t getting enough sleep. That’s important because substances such as caffeine can hide the effects of lack of sleep so patients don’t realize there’s a problem, he said.

 

What about the possibility of a pill that mimics the effects of sleep so people don’t have to bother getting some shut-eye in the first place? There’s no evidence to support the idea of such a pill, Czeisler said, although there’s ongoing research into how to improve the quality of sleep that people do manage to get.

For more about sleep disorders, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Simon Archer, reader in chronobiology, University of Surrey, United Kingdom; Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., chief, sleep medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and professor and director, sleep medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Feb. 25, 2013, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online

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