Sleep deprivation is a serious health concern that many simply choose to ignore. The price for doing so can be steep. Research tells us that lack of sleep can contribute to everything from diabetes, obesity, and heart disease to physicalaches and pains and irreversible brain damage.
In one recent animal study,1 sleep deprived mice lost 25 percent of the neurons located in their locus coeruleus, a nucleus in the brainstem associated with wakefulness and cognitive processes. The research also showed that “catching up” on sleep on the weekend will not prevent this damage.
Other research published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging2 suggests that people with chronic sleep problems may develop Alzheimer’s disease sooner than those who sleep well.
If you’re cutting down on sleep in order to get ahead in your career while juggling a household and your kids’ jam-packed schedules, such findings should give you pause. As noted in a recent article
“For some, sleep loss is a badge of honor, a sign that they don’t require the eight-hour biological reset that the rest of us softies do. Others feel that keeping up with peers requires sacrifice at the personal level—and at least in the short-term, sleep is an invisible sacrifice.”
The Cult of Manly Wakefulness
On average most only get 6.5 hours of sleep on weeknights, but report needing 7.25 hours in order to function optimally.
Another recent survey5 of the sleeping habits of Britons revealed that nearly six out of 10 people get less than seven hours of sleep per night. This is a surprisingly dramatic rise from 2013 data, which showed that a little less than four out of 10 people slept less than seven hours nightly.
Modern man’s penchant for equating sleep with unproductiveness (if not outright laziness) can be traced back to the heyday of Thomas Edison, who was known for working at all hours and shunning s
Today, science has established just how dangerously incorrect Edison’s belief was. Sleep is actually imperative for physical and mental health,7 and as detailed in T.S. Wiley’s book, Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival, we are quite literally sick from being tired.
This culture of sleep deprivation started with the invention of the light bulb, and has only gotten worse with the proliferation of light-emitting electronics.
While some do sacrifice sleep on purpose, others have simply fallen victim to the modern lifestyle, which sets you up for daytime light deficiency, followed by too much light exposure at night. This disrupts your natural waking-sleeping cycle, and can easily lead to disrupted sleep at night and impaired wakefulness during the following day.
Acting Against Your Body Clock Can Lead to Serious Health Problems
According to sleep researchers, people now get one to two hours less sleep each night, on average, compared to 60 years ago. A primary reason for this is the proliferation of electronics, which also allows us to work (and play) later than ever before.
The blue light emitted from electronics such as TVs and computers suppresses your melatonin production, thereby preventing you from feeling sleepy. What you may not realize is that even if you don’t feel sleepy, you need sleep. You’ve simply artificially disrupted your body clock; you have not in any way altered your body’s biological needs. As noted by Oxford University Professor Russell Foster:
“We are the supremely arrogant species; we feel we can abandon four billion years of evolution and ignore the fact that we have evolved under a light-dark cycle. And long-term, acting against the clock can lead to serious health problems.”
For example, research shows that sleeping less than six hours per night more than triples your risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of shut-eye per night double their chances of dying from lack of sleep
Your Body Is Programmed to Rise with the Sun, and Sleep When It’s Dark
The reason why light exposure during the daytime is so important is because it serves as the major synchronizer of your master body clock. This master clock is a group of cells in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN). As a group, these nuclei synchronize to the light-dark cycle of your environment when light enters your eye. You also have other biological clocks throughout your body, and those clocks subsequently synchronize to your master clock.
To maintain healthy master clock timing, aim to adjust your light exposure to a more natural light rhythm, where you get bright light exposure during the day and limited blue light and bright light exposure once the sun sets. Pardi recommends getting at least 30-60 minutes of outdoor light exposure during daylight hours, in order to “anchor” your master clock rhythm. The ideal time to go outdoors is right around solar noon but any time during daylight hours is useful.
Once sun has set, the converse applies. Now, you want to avoid light as much as possible, in order for your body to secrete melatonin, which helps you feel sleepy. As mentioned earlier, modern technologies such as TVs and computer screens (including smartphones) emit blue light that your brain mistakes for sunlight. This is why electronic gadgets must be avoided at least an hour or so before bedtime, to allow your body to ready itself for sleep.
HAPPY SLEEPING ALL & IM NOT SAYING ITS EASY TO PUT DOWN GADGETS AND PUT DOWN WORK IM SAYING IF WE DONT START TO MAKE MICRO CHANGES AND ADJSTMENTS WE ARE SHAVING OFF YEARS OF OUR LIFES AND HOW WE LOOK AND THINK