Dr. Mike's Healthy Lifestyle Advice: Sleep Deprivation


Dr. Mike's Healthy Lifestyle Advice: Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation can significantly affect our health and well-being; and unfortunately therethere’s plenty of confusing information out there about how we can get a good night’s sleep every now and then.

According to a report from the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 50-70 million Americans have chronic sleep problems, with as many as 30
million suffering from chronic insomnia. Another American study found that only 5% of adults reported never having trouble sleeping.

While insomnia is a nighttime problem, it may cause daytime issues as well. For example, insufficient sleep results in fatigue-related motor vehicle accidents, which cost Americans nearly $50 billion/year. Lost productivity, accounts for another $150 billion/year in sleep deprivation cost year.

People with insomnia often complain about:

• Fatigue and daytime sleepiness
• Moodiness, irritability or anger
• Lack of concentration and poor memory
• Upset stomach
• Mistakes/accidents at work or while driving.

What Causes Sleep Problems?

In recent decades, loss of sleep has increased due to use of TVs, computers, longer work days and our fast-pace lifestyles. Other causes include:

1) Normal aging-as we age, we tend to sleep less deeply and to need less sleep. Olderpeople also tend to nap during the day, which can result in difficulty sleeping at night. The ‘not sleeping’ problem becomes worrisome and this frustration or concern in turn leads to more sleeping problems.

2) Stress, worry & anxiety-sleep is easily affected by feelings and emotions.

3) Depression and moodiness-it’s quite common for depressed people to have problems falling asleep and/or they wake up early and then have difficulty to fall asleep again.

4) Surroundings-noise, room temperature, light, and mattress comfort can all affect sleep.

5) Medical reasons-60 to 70% of people over the age of 65 get out of bed at least once per night to go to the toilet, and many times they have difficulty falling back asleep. Other medical reasons may include pain, medications that interfere with sleep, and emotions of loss or bereavement.

Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

According to the Washington Post, not getting enough sleep increases an individual’s risk of developing a number of illnesses. These include but are not limited to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes (due to hormonal changes caused by lack of sleep). Your chances of developing coronary heart disease double with lack of sleep. It appears that sleep
deprivation decreases the function of an individual’s immune system, making one more susceptible to illnesses ranging from minor to major. An individual who does not get enough sleep at night may be at a higher risk of colon and breast cancer.

If you are a male, sleep deprivation is also linked to erectile dysfunction because of the drop in testosterone levels that often results from lack of sleep.

Another danger of inadequate sleep is weight gain and obesity. Scientists have found that people who get less sleep are more likely to be overweight! An extensive study showed that people who sleep less than 7 hours on average tend to be significantly more obese. For example, those of us who sleep less than 6 hours per night have a 27% increased rate of obesity and those who sleep only 5
hours have a 73% increased rate.

Children who sleep less than 10 hours per night have a 3.5 times greater incidence of obesity compared to those who sleep 12 hours per night. Sleep deprivation at 30 months can predict obesity at the age of 6.

How does sleep cause weight gain? Well, less sleep results in less growth hormone production. Growth hormone is responsible for recuperation, regeneration, renewing and rebuilding
processes within our body during sleep.

Less sleep also increases cortisol, insulin and ghrelin levels, while decreasing leptin. Ghrelin is a hormone, produced by the stomach and pancreas, which stimulates hunger. Leptin is a protein hormone, mainly produced by white adipose tissue, which controls appetite and satiety (the feeling of being full).

Less sleep also causes increased daytime fatigue, lessening our energy and desire to engage in physical activity. So if you are battling weight problems, keep in mind that if you are not sleeping enough, that may be a contributing factor!

It’s generally recommended that adults sleep 8 hours per night, with a minimum of 7 hours. But the amount of sleep that people need varies from person to person, and also varies throughout life. Many studies show that people range between needing 4 and 10 hours or more of sleep per night. For example, a newborn baby sleeps 16-17 hours per day and as children grow older they need less and less sleep (about 11 hours around the age of 5 and maybe 8-9 hours as a teenager).

By the time someone reaches the age of 30 they may need less than 8 hours, and many older people need less than 6 hours. Not only does the need for sleep vary with age, but it also varies from person to person depending on their activity level. A retired person may require less sleep than a person with a full-time job and a young family.

Stay tuned for Dr. Mike’s upcoming articles on sleep deprivation:

Dr. Mike’s Natural Health Program: Fall Asleep Naturally

Dr. Mike’s Natural Health Program: Natural Sleep for Life

Yours in Optimal Health,

Dr. Mike.