Get to Sleep!

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Just read a rather lengthy article on how the LACK of sleep can affect your health. Of course, many of us already know this, but do you know how MUCH it affects your health? And, more importantly, if you tend towards insomnia, are you doing anything about it?

According to Matthew Walker, a sleep scientist, lack of adequate sleep can trigger, among other things, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and poor mental health. Pretty scary, huh?

What is sleep deprivation? According to Walker, it’s anything LESS than seven hours per night. How many of you reading this can testify you slept that many hours last night? Or any night?

A rather interesting statistic presented in the article is that in 1942, less than 8% of the population was trying to survive on six hours or less sleep at night — in 2017, almost one in two people is! Of course, most of us immediately would consider the stresses of work (which often includes commute time) as being one of the causes, but other factors enter in as well. For example, anxiety plays a part (we’re a lonelier, more depressed society) and of course, alcohol and caffeine come into play.

For some, lack of sleep is a badge of honor … “I only got four hours of sleep last night!” But Walker points out that the number of people who can survive on five hours of sleep or less without any impairment, expressed as a percent of the population and rounded to a whole number, is zero.

A rather unnerving part of the article included this:  adults aged 45 years or older who sleep less than six hours a night are 200% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in their lifetime, as compared with those sleeping seven or eight hours a night. 

Lack of sleep also makes people more susceptible to weight gain. (Personal note: One look at the overall U.S. population and it would seem very few people are getting enough sleep!)

Another unsettling fact related to “short sleep” is that it can affect our cancer-fighting immune cells, as well as significantly raising the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

There is much more information related to sleep (or lack thereof) in the article. If you tend to be one of the people described, you may want to read it first-hand … particularly the suggestions Walker makes towards the end.

And finally, a couple of interesting facts related to sleep:

  • An adult sleeping only 6.75 hours a night would be predicted to live only to their early 60s without medical intervention.
  • A 2013 study reported that men who slept too little had a sperm count 29% lower than those who regularly get a full and restful night’s sleep.
  • If you drive a car when you have had less than five hours’ sleep, you are 4.3 times more likely to be involved in a crash. If you drive having had four hours, you are 11.5 times more likely to be involved in an accident.

The full article can be found here.

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