Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ten Health Benefits Of Getting Your ZZZ's

Our modern, on-the-go world has become dependent on Starbucks, caffeine packed energy drinks, and/or a nicotine fix to make it to a state of functional each and every morning. This is most certainly due to a lack of sleep as many of us are failing to get enough zzz's. The popular vices of caffeine and nicotine only serve to undermine our health when instead a good night's sleep is usually all we need.

In the United States there are 50-70 million people who suffer from chronic sleep and wakefulness disorders [1]. The National Sleep Foundation states that adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night to stay in good health [2]. Getting the proper amount of sleep can do wonders for your health. Here's 10 health benefits of getting the proper amount of sleep.

1)  Sleep and Hypertension
        -  Individuals who get between 6-7 hours of sleep per night had a 19% increased risk of suffering from
           hypertension compared to those who got between 7-8 hours per night. The odds were even worse
           for those who got less than 6 hours of sleep per night. They had a 66% increased risk of suffering
           from high blood pressure [3]. Get enough sleep and your blood pressure will thank you.

2)  Sleep and the Incidence of Diabetes
        -  Chronic sleep loss has been shown to increase the incidence of type 2 diabetes [4]. Individuals who
           get an adequate amount of sleep are less likely to experience glucose metabolism deficiencies and
           insulin resistance compared to those who are chronically sleep deprived.

3)  Sleep and Obesity
        -  Getting an average of 9 or more hours of sleep per night was associated with a lower risk of obesity
           compared to getting less than or equal to 6 hours a night according to a study looking at over 1,700
           men and women [5]. In fact, for every extra hour of sleep one gets the study showed a 24% lower
           risk of obesity.

4)  Sleep and Cancer
        -  Studies have shown that both breast and prostate cancer risk can be reduced by sleeping longer
           [6,7]. Men and women who slept an average of 9 or more hours per night had a much lower
           incidence of developing breast or prostate cancer. The study looking at the association between
           sleep and breast cancer stated that increased melatonin levels in longer sleepers may be the reason
           for this.

5)  Sleep and Memory
        -  Getting proper amounts of sleep can increase memory consolidation as it helps your brain
           remember better [8]. Declarative memories (facts and knowledge) are retained in slow wave sleep
           which is commonly referred to as deep sleep. Procedural (learning how to do things) and
           emotional memory are retained during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

6)  Sleep and Performance
        -  Sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease the performance of skills such as reaction time,
           hand-eye coordination, and accuracy readings [9]. These decreases were similar or even greater
           than those individuals who experienced the same effects from a blood alcohol level of 0.05%.

7)  Sleep and Depression/Anxiety
        -  A study of elderly population found that those individuals who obtained the proper amount of
           sleep were less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety [10]. Elderly subjects who slept less
           than 6 hours per night or more than 9 hours per night had the highest incidences of depression and

8)  Sleep and Cellular DNA Health
        -  Animal studies show the crucial importance of getting enough sleep in maintaining healthy DNA
           composition. Animals who experienced both short and long term sleep deprivation showed
           genetic damage in both their blood and brain cells compared to those animals with no sleep
           deprivation [11].

9)  Sleep and Headaches
        -  Sleep disorders have been shown to have an increased correlation with the frequency
           and severity of headaches [12]. People who suffer from migraines can actually resolve their
           headache by lying down in a quiet, dark room and falling asleep. As little as 2.5 hours of sleep
           has been shown to alleviate migraine headaches in some individuals [13].

10)  Sleep and Stress
           -  Noise disturbances causing an interruption in deep sleep have been linked to an increase in
              stress hormones being released by the body causing a deformation in the body's natural
              circadian rhythms which are essential to a healthy sleeping pattern [14]. This leads to less
              recovery time for the body and decreased performance capacity, drowsiness, and tiredness
              throughout the day.

Get your zzz's! Make it a point to develop consistent healthy sleeping habits and you'll see the benefits almost immediately while improving your long term health at the same time. Visit my website for more tips and advice on sleep and overall health.

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1 Institute of Medicine. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2006.
2 National Sleep Foundation. How much sleep do we really need? Washington, DC: National Sleep Foundation; 2010. Available at  Accessed Oct 14th, 2011.
3 Gottlieb DJ, Redline S, Nieto FJ, et al. Association of usual sleep duration with hypertension: the Sleep Heart Health Study. Sleep. 2006 Aug;29(8):1009-14.
4 Spiegel K, Knutson K, Leproult R, et al. Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. J Appl Physiol. 2005 Nov;99(5):2008-19.
5 Vioque J, Torres A, Quiles J. Time spent watching television, sleep duration and obesity in adults living in Valencia, Spain. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000 Dec;24(12):1683-8.
6 Kakizaki M, Inoue K, Kuriyama S, et al. Sleep duration and the risk of prostate cancer: the Ohsaki Cohort Study. Br J Cancer. 2008 Jul 8;99(1):176-8.
7 Wu AH, Wang R, Koh WP, et al. Sleep duration, melatonin and breast cancer among Chinese women in Singapore. Carcinogenesis. 2008 Jun;29(6):1244-8.
8 Diekelmann S, Wilhelm I, Born J. The whats and whens of sleep-dependent memory consolidation. Sleep Med Rev. 2009 Oct;13(5):309-21.
9 Williamson AM, Feyer AM. Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments
in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to
legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occup Environ Med 2000;57:649–655 649.
10 van den Berg JF, Luijendijk HJ, Tulen JH, et al. Sleep in depression and anxiety disorders: a population-based study of elderly persons. J Clin Psychiatry. 2009 Aug;70(8):1105-13.
11 Andersen ML, Ribeiro DA, Bergamaschi CT, et al. Distinct effects of acute and chronic sleep loss on DNA damage in rats. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Apr 30;33(3):562-7.
12 Rains JC, Poceta JS, Penzien DB. Sleep and headaches. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2008 Mar;8(2):167-75.
13 Blau JN. Resolution of migraine attacks: sleep and the recovery phase. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 1982;45:223-226.
14 Maschke C, Hecht K. Stress hormones and sleep disturbances - electrophysiological and hormonal aspects. Noise Health. 2004 Jan-Mar;6(22):49-54.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget the constant bombardment of commercials and electronic devices that add to us being too stimulated which cause us to have unhealthy sleeping habits.


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