I had gone through sleepless nights as well as phases where I had an excess sleep. After going through both the advantages and disadvantages of sleep and lot of research from sleep experts, I feel it is one of the most ignored aspects in today’s modern world of WhatsApp and Facebook chats.
Sleep is a subject which had some serious debates. How many hours should we sleep? What is the ideal bedtime? What happens when you sleep? What happens when we deprived of sleep?
Well, the list of the debate can go on and on;
Generally, we know sleep is something extremely important. But the majority of the people don’t get enough of it. There are numerous studies suggest sleepless nights can have more serious implications than the previous thought. It can make you fat and even increases your chance of stroke!
Why Sleep Is Important?
Sleep is very important for maintaining good health. It will reduce you stress and make you happy. Sleep deprivation affects your energy, mood, ability to learn, good judgment, memory, efficiency and reaction time.
Important Facts About Sleep
William Dement, a sleep researcher claimed that the sleep debt is a greater threat to the United States than the monetary debt. It is found that more than 20% of Americans get less than six hours of sleep as per 2009 survey.
It is not just the amount of sleep but at what time you sleep matters. It is said every hour of sleep before midnight is worth twice the sleep after midnight.
1. Sleep and lifespan;
The researchers systematically studied and combined the result of group studies to know whether there is a relationship between the death and the sleep duration. Many such studies show that regularly sleeping too little OR regularly sleeping too much is associated with shorter lifespan!
Now the question is what is the ideal time of sleep we should have:
Too little sleep: Less than 6 hours
Too much sleep: More than 9 hours
Ideal: 7-8 hours is the ideal.
This is the general rule for sleep. However, it depends on the age as well. Newborn and young adult, for example, need more sleep whereas the adult and older people timings may vary.
2. Sleep and cancer;
Lack of sleep could be linked to the development of cancer cells in your body. In 2003, researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston and Brigham Women’s Hospital found a correlation between risk of breast cancer and melatonin which is a hormone produced by the body to promote continued sleep. When levels of melatonin decrease, the body produces more estrogen, which is a known risk factor for breast cancer.
People with circadian rhythm disorders—in which the body’s biological clock is disrupted have the increased risk of breast cancer. This may be because of shift work, regular night parties etc..
A study in the International Journal of Cancer compared 1200 women who had developed breast cancer between 2005 and 2008, with 1300 women who did not have a cancer diagnosis. They were shocked to see that the rate of breast cancer was increased by 30 percent for women who had worked shifts.
Prostate cancer is also associated with sleep. Moderate problems with the sleep increased the chance of prostate cancer by two-fold. People with severe sleep problems are more likely to increase the chance of prostate cancer by three fold.
3. Sleep and weight gain;
If you are a five-hour sleeper and start to sleep for seven hours a night, you will start dropping weight.” Exactly how the lack of sleep affects our ability to lose weight has a lot to do with our nightly hormones.
When you don’t get enough sleep your metabolism will not function properly. The two hormones namely ghrelin and leptin get affect by your sleep patterns. Ghrelin is the go hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you don’t have enough sleep, you have more ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.
In simple words more ghrelin + less leptin = weight gain.
In essence, sleep is important part to maintain our health along with diet, exercise, detox etc. We should become aware and understand the facts and make sure we live well and not succumb to modern day living where you become stressful and get sleep deprived leading to host of diseases including cancer.