Lack of Good Sleep Leads to Poor Health
- Sleep Quality affects Blood Pressure and Risk of Heart Disease
- Sleep Deprivation Takes a Toll on Mental Health
- Sleep deprivation is a risk factor for severe Dementia.
- Research strengthens the link between sleep problems and Heart Disease
A noted by author Quanhe Yang, senior scientist in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes: “The difference between a person’s estimated heart age and his or her chronological age is ‘excess heart age.’ Higher excess heart age indicates a higher risk of developing heart disease.
For example, if a 40-year-old man has a heart age of 44 years based on his cardiovascular risk profile, the personal risk of having a heart disease, then his excess heart age is 4 years. In effect, his heart is 4 years older than it should be, for a typical man his age. The concept of heart age helps to simplify risk communication.”
Of the 12,755 participants in this study, 13% slept just 5 hours or less per night; 24% got 6 hours; 31% got 7 hours; 26% slept for 8 hours; and about 5% got 9 or more hours of sleep each night.
Considering the ideal sleep time is between 7 and 9 hours, these statistics reveal at least 37% of American adults are not getting anywhere near healthy amounts of sleep.
Forbes reported that women who had mild sleep disturbance such as taking longer to fall asleep or waking up one or more times during the night were “significantly more likely to have high blood pressure than those who fell asleep quickly and slept soundly,”
According to the researchers: “Systolic blood pressure was associated directly with poor sleep quality, and diastolic blood pressure was of borderline significance with obstructive sleep apnea risk after adjusting for con-founders. Poor sleep quality was associated with endothelial nuclear factor kappa B activation.
Insomnia and longer sleep onset latency were also associated with endothelial nuclear factor kappa B activation … These findings provide direct evidence that common but frequently neglected sleep disturbances such as poor sleep quality and insomnia are associated with increased blood pressure and vascular inflammation even in the absence of inadequate sleep duration in women.”
Sleep is not a single state.
Healthy sleep consists of several stages, each stage lasting 5 to 15 mins, with a complete cycle (light, deep and rapid eye movement or REM sleep) taking between 90 and 120 mins.
A full sleep cycle starts out in light sleep and progresses through to deep sleep, then reverses back from deep to light sleep before entering REM.
We cycle through each of these stages 4 to 5X during the night, and this cycling is tremendously important, from both a biological and psychological perspective.
•Stages 1 and 2 (light sleep; non-REM): During the initial stages of sleep, biological processes in the body slow down but our brain remains active as it begins the editing process where decisions are made about which memories to store and which to discard.
•Stages 3 and 4 (deep sleep; non-REM): In these deeper sleep stages you enter into a near coma-like state, during which physiological cleansing and detoxification processes in the brain take place. Your brain cells actually shrink by about 60% during this deep sleep phase. This creates more space in-between the cells, giving your cerebrospinal fluid more space to flush out the debris.
•Stage 5 (REM): During this last phase, we enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where dreaming takes place. In this phase, the brain is as active as it is during wakefulness, but your body is paralyzed, which prevents you from acting out dreams.
The frightening experience of sleep paralysis occurs when you awaken during this phase and find the body unresponsive. The “treatment” for this disorder is knowledge.
As noted in “Science of Sleep,” we just need to be educated about what is happening so that you can calmly ride out the episode, which typically will not last more than a few mins.
All of these stages are important, and it is important to cycle through them enough times each night, especially the deeper stages.
When stages 3 and 4 are missing or interrupted, the brain gets clogged with debris associated with Alzheimer’s disease and, indeed, sleep deprivation is a risk factor for severe dementia.
Stages 1 through 4 are also what allow you to feel refreshed in the morning, while stage 5 is important for memory.
Forgoing REM sleep for extended periods of time may also lead to a state where you actually start dreaming while you’re awake, resulting in delusions and wild hallucinations.
“Science of Sleep” features Dr. William Dement, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford, who in Y 1963 oversaw a sleep deprivation experiment by a young man named Randy Gardner.
“We were waiting to see if he would become psychotic,” Dr. Dement says.
Mr. Gardner stayed awake for a record 264 hours — 63 hours longer than Peter Tripp, a disc jockey who, in Y 1959, tried to break the world record for sleeplessness. Mr. Tripp stayed awake for 201 hours straight, doing a continuous broadcast from Times Square in NYC.
For Mr. Tripp, hallucinations set in on Day Three.
He saw spiders in his shoes and became desperately paranoid, convinced people were trying to poison him. He also became belligerent and abusive, and according to one of the attending psychiatrists, “clearly psychotic.”
Mr. Gardner, on the other hand, claims he was feeling all right up until the 8th or 9th day, and did not start having hallucinatory experiences until the very end.
Once the experiment ended, after 11 days of wakefulness followed by 24 hours of sleep, a comprehensive exam and mental health check was performed. Mr. Gardner was found to be completely normal.
According to Dr. Dement, Mr. Gardner’s experiment proved extended sleep loss did not cause psychosis.
Mr. Tripp’s experiment, on the other hand, revealed that even though he was awake walking around and talking his brainwaves showed he was asleep, and it was during the REM cycles that he was most likely to hallucinate. Essentially, he was experiencing his nightmares in an awake state.
What is more, while Mr. Tripp had no signs of psychosis after the experiment ended and he’d slept for 24 hrs, many insisted his personality had permanently changed for the worse. He was no longer as cheerful and easygoing as he’d been before, and those who knew him best insist those 8ht days of sleep deprivation damaged his psyche long-term.
In all likelihood, the effects of sleep deprivation will affect different people in different ways, depending on a variety of biological, environmental and perhaps even genetic factors.
There is no doubt that sleep needs to be a priority in our lives if we intend to live a long and healthy life. For many, this means forgoing night-owl tendencies and getting to bed at a reasonable time.
If you need to be up at 6:00a, the lights-out deadline of 9:30 or 10;00p, depending on how quickly you tend to fall asleep.
We are surrounded by threats, some of them unseen, that put us all at risk of ill health.
GMOs. Processed foods, noise, chemicals +++
That is just the tip of the iceberg. So is you are having trouble sleeping seek guidance to help guard against this perils and secure your well-being.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively
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