711 reasons why you (yes you) need good sleep

Parents

Unfortunately, short sleep means short life, and short sleep is linked to ‘all-cause mortality.’ We have been led to believe that sleep is an optional lifestyle luxury but in fact it is a biological necessity. We can even train ourselves to need sleep right?

We have thousands of papers showing evidence that insufficient sleep leads to ‘catastrophic’ breakdown in both the brain and the body eroding your health slowly over time for milder issues and wreaking havoc on your physical and mental health for more severe issues.

Studies show that when adults are not getting the recommended number of hours a night that both brain and body are impacted. Sleep is just as essential for your brain as it is for your body. Here are a few facts and stats to ponder:

Brain
40% reduction in memory formation.

You need good sleep before and after learning to activate the memory circuits, absorb new memories and effectively commit new experiences to memory. For adults, this means 7-9 hours of good quality sleep. Just staying awake for the night to cram for an exam, can reduce your brain’s ability to form new memories by 40%.

‘Old People don’t need sleep’: really?
Sleep is just as important for every person irrespective of age, in fact sleep deprivation and decreases in deep sleep in the elderly are directly associated with cognitive decline and have been shown to cause it!

Body
Reproductive health

Routine sleep deprivation decreases testosterone and testicle size and causes equivalent impairments in women’s reproductive system.

24% increase in heart attacks

Every year when people lose an hour of sleep through daylight saving, there is a 24% increase in heart attacks. Conversely when we gain an hour there is a 21% decrease in heart attacks. The same is true for car accidents and mental health issues, with suicide rates rising and dropping accordingly.

70% drop in immune cell function

Restrictions of sleep hours lead to significant decrease in immune cell activity. For people restricted to 4-hours on just one night, their immune cell activity dropped 70%.

Strong links to cancer

Sleep deprivation is linked to cancer of the bowel, prostate and breast, so much so that the World Health organisation has named night-time shift work as a probable carcinogen

711 genes were distorted!

Erosion of your DNA genetic code can happen simply by getting 6 hours a night for 1 week. In fact, in one study showed 711 genes were distorted in their activity due to suboptimal sleep hours. But worse still, the changes in gene activity put people at risk of serious diseases: the genes that deactivated were linked to the immune system. Those genes that were switched on led to …..

Tumours, long term chronic inflammation and stress

With up to 40% adults globally suffering from sleep problems, poor sleep and the associated diseases represent a ticking time bomb. Is this one of the greatest health challenges of the 21st century? World Health Organisation thinks so.

It’s not just about the number of hours of sleep…..

It is not only short sleep that will erode your well-being. Interruptions to your sleep architecture i.e. disrupting the critical phases of sleep also disrupts the critical
processes in the brain that occur each night to restore cell function that enable healthy immune response, reduce inflammation and assist with stress management. So, we need to be serious about our sleep and understand our own sleep puzzle. Are we suffering from sleep because of unhealthy sleep habits? Or do we have a problem that requires medical expertise?

Sleeping pills do not give good quality sleep

Sleeping pills unfortunately disrupt the natural architecture of sleep, essential for the brain i.e. light stage 1 & 2, then deep stage 3 &4 then ‘dream’ sleep. Each phase has a unique and essential restorative function in the brain and are disrupted with sleeping pills.

What causes your short sleep or interrupted sleep?

With these sobering facts and stats in mind are you planning on getting a good night’s sleep? By prioritising your sleep, you will live longer, be safer and feel better. If you want to learn the top tips for getting good sleep read my blog ‘7 Tips for improving your sleep’. Building your amazing future starts with getting the sleep you need every single night to be healthy and happy.

Sharon Moore

Author, speaker, sleep health advocate and speech pathologist

I'm Sharon Moore, author, speaker, sleep health advocate and speech pathologist at Well Spoken Upper Airway & Communication Solutions. I've seen more than 40,000 families over 4 decades of clinical work and I’ve seen first-hand how upper airway issues impact both health and happiness. The ripple effects span across family, school, community and society, and left untreated can last a life-time. I believe that great treatment transforms lives, the earlier the better and that everyone has a right to be happy, healthy and heard. I've worked in medical settings in Australia and London and currently run Well Spoken clinic in Canberra treating patients of all ages referred by medical and dental specialists for disorders of function of the upper airway that impact breathing, eating and communication.

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