22 Nov Pillar 4: Great Sleep
Scientists from Oxford University claim that we are having between 1 & 2 hours less sleep a night than we did 60 years ago. Sleep deprivation is thought to cost the British economy about £40 billion a year.
The lack of sleep can be detrimental to health, not only to our cognitive ability the next day, causing our reactions to be slower, but also to our body’s ability to detox the brain and liver, repair tissues, and processing memories can be impeded. Rats deprived of sleep may die within a month!
The benefits of sleep are quite wide spread and include
- Increased energy
- Improved concentration
- Greater capacity to learn
- Better ability to make healthy food choices
- Improved Immune system function
- Enhanced autophagy (kill off of old, damaged cells)
- Reduced risk of developing chronic diseases
- Better memory – I think!
- Increased life expectancy
- Reduced risk of being overweight
- Reduced stress levels
- Reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s
Sleep is different for us all; some wake in the night and cannot get back to sleep. There can be several possible reasons for this like a overworked liver, sleep disorders like sleep apnea, menopause, restless legs and more. Recent research suggests low levels of iron may affect sleep, another paper suggest the brain clearing system works at night and if disturbed by lack of sleep, a build up of amyloid β can occur. Amyloid β in the human brain is linked to the development of several diseases. There is also a clear link between short sleep time and cardiovascular health, plus diabetes mellitus, and obesity.
So how do we attain great sleep? Aim for between 7 to 9 hours sleep a night. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time each morning, whether it is a work day or not. This helps the body clock to find its rhythm. Turn all gadgets off at least 1 hour before bed, but preferably 2 hours. They omit blue light that triggers wakefulness, they can also omit damaging electromagnetic fields (EMF), which may disrupt sleep and promote ill health. Caffeine has some benefits for many, but restrict it after midday to avoid its stimulating influence, and ensure the room is dark and cool. The last meal of the day is best consumed at least 2 hours before bed, to allow digestion to occur. Some people like to write a journal before bed to unload their mind of nagging thoughts, I like to put a little lavender oil on the base of my foot, which helps me to relax and nod off. And a drop of thyme oil on my husband’s big toe to tackle his snoring – it works remarkably well.
Salminen, A.V. & Winkelmann, J. Curr Treat Options Neurol (2018) 20: 55. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11940-018-0540-3
Tobaldini E, Florelli EM, Solbiati M, Constantino G, Nobili L, Montano M, Short sleep duration and cardiometabolic risk: from pathophysiology to clinical evidence (2018) Nature Reviews Cardiology, doi: 10.1038/s41569-018-0109-6. [Epub ahead of print]
Rasmussen NK, Mestre H, Nedergaard M, The glymphatic pathway in neurological disorders. Lancet Neurol. 2018 Nov;17(11):1016-1024. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(18)30318-1.