How Many ZZZZZs Do You Need To Be Healthy?
Ahhhh, nothing better than a good night of sleep. I am one of those people who knows I need a least 8 hours. I’ve been that way since I was a child. My parents have always said I never needed a bedtime because I would just go to bed when I was tired.
But do you really need 8 hours like they say? I went out and did some research to find out….
Here’s what I found out: 
Sleep is an important function for many reasons. When you sleep, your brain signals your body to release hormones and compounds that help:
- decrease risk for health conditions
- manage your hunger levels
- maintain your immune system
- retain memory
Researchers in the United Kingdom and Italy analyzed data from 16 separate studies conducted over 25 years, covering more than 1.3 million people and more than 100,000 deaths. They published their findings in the journal Sleep. Those who generally slept for less than six hours a night were 12 percent more likely to experience a premature death. People who slept more than eight to nine hours per night had an even higher risk, at 30 percent.
Researchers also found that people who reduced their sleep time from seven hours to five hours or less had 1.7 times the risk of death from all causes.
People who are sleep-deprived:
- have a harder time receiving information due to the brain’s overworked neurons
- may interpret events differently
- tend to have impaired judgment
- lose their ability to access previous information
It’s important to get seven to eight hours of sleep so that you can experience all the sleep stages. No one stage is responsible for memory and learning. Two stages (rapid eye movement and slow wave sleep) contribute to:
- creative thinking
- procedural memory
- long-term memories
- memory processing
I know it’s hard to make sleep one of your top priorities. We all have such busy lives and we let our phones and TV’s keep us up, which then makes it tougher for us to fall asleep.
We need to keep sleep our top priority :
“Sleep helps heal and repair our heart and blood vessels, and thus sleep deficiency can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to obesity. During our sleep, the body helps maintain and balance our hormones. If we don’t get enough sleep hormones like ghrelin (signals hunger) and leptin (signals satiety) become imbalanced. Ghrelin increases and leptin decreases. In addition, sleep also affects how our bodies react to insulin, the hormone that controls our blood glucose (sugar). Lack of sleep is linked to high blood sugar. Our sensitivity to insulin greatly decreases with inadequate sleep. In addition, sleep aids healthy growth and development. Human growth hormone is excreted during sleep, and research suggests that it’s during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep that the body is able to: restore organs, bones, and tissue; replenish immune cells, and circulate human growth hormone for strong muscles and bones.”
TIPS FOR GETTING ADEQUATE SLEEP
- Download filters for your phone and/or laptop (check out lux) to reduce blue light and power electronics down 1 hour before bed
- Try a meditation app (check out Calm, Headspace, or the Mindfulness App)
- Use Low Blue Lights glasses, lighting, and filters in your home
- Stick to a sleep schedule – try to sleep and wake at consistent times
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before sleep
- Include physical activity in your daily routine (limit within 2 hours of bedtime)
- Increase bright light exposure during the day – natural sunlight during the day helps keep our circadian rhythm healthy
- Decrease the temperature of your bedroom slightly
- Relax and clear your mind in the evening – try reading, journaling, stretching, or prayer
Personally, I’ve started to listen to an audiobook or podcast. Something easy and relaxing will whisk me off to sleep quickly. I’m usually asleep within 15 minutes of when I lay my head down on my pillow.
October 4, 2017
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar, Dr. David Hardy, Dr. Joseph Little, Chiropractic Physicians