the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life span -- 12/20/17
Today's selection -- from Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD. The profound harm of too little sleep:
"Do you think you got enough sleep this past week? Can you recall the last time you woke up without an alarm clock feeling refreshed, not needing caffeine? If the answer to either of these questions is 'no; you are not alone. Two-thirds of adults throughout all developed nations fail to obtain the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep.'
"I doubt you are surprised by this fact, but you may be surprised by the consequences. Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer's disease. Inadequate sleep -- even moderate reductions for just one week -- disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic. Short sleeping increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path toward cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure. Fitting Charlotte Brontes prophetic wisdom that 'a ruffled mind makes a restless pillow; sleep disruption further contributes to all major psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, and suicidality.
|Noon - Rest from Work (after Millet) by Vincent van Gogh, 1890|
"Perhaps you have also noticed a desire to eat more when you're tired? This is no coincidence. Too little sleep swells concentrations of a hormone that makes you feel hungry while suppressing a companion hormone that otherwise signals food satisfaction. Despite being full, you still want to eat more. It's a proven recipe for weight gain in sleep-deficient adults and children alike. Worse, should you attempt to diet but don't get enough sleep while doing so, it is futile, since most of the weight you lose will come from lean body mass, not fat.
"Add the above health consequences up and a proven link becomes easier to accept: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life span. The old maxim 'I'll sleep when I'm dead' is therefore unfortunate. Adopt this mind-set, and you will be dead sooner and the quality of that (shorter) life will be worse. The elastic band of sleep deprivation can stretch only so far before it snaps. Sadly, human beings are in fact the only species that will deliberately deprive themselves of sleep without legitimate gain. Every component of wellness, and countless seams of societal fabric, are being eroded by our costly state of sleep neglect: human and financial alike. So much so that the World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared a sleep loss epidemic throughout industrialized nations. It is no coincidence that countries where sleep time has declined most dramatically over the past century, such as the US, the UK, Japan, and South Korea, and several in western Europe, are also those suffering the greatest increase in rates of the aforementioned physical diseases and mental disorders.
"Scientists such as myself have even started lobbying doctors to start 'prescribing' sleep. As medical advice goes, it's perhaps the most painless and enjoyable to follow. Do not, however, mistake this as a plea to doctors to start prescribing more sleeping pills -- quite the opposite, in fact, considering the alarming evidence surrounding the deleterious health consequences of these drugs.
"But can we go so far as to say that a lack of sleep can kill you outright? Actually, yes -- on at least two counts. First, there is a very rare genetic disorder that starts with a progressive insomnia, emerging in midlife. ... Second is the deadly circumstance of getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle without having had sufficient sleep. Drowsy driving is the cause of hundreds of thousands of traffic accidents and fatalities each year. And here, it is not only the life of the sleep-deprived individuals that is at risk, but the lives of those around them. Tragically, one person dies in a traffic accident every hour in the United States due to a fatigue-related error. It is disquieting to learn that vehicular accidents caused by drowsy driving exceed those caused by alcohol and drugs combined."