You want something that will improve your mood, your performance, your immune and cardiovascular health? A good sleep! But only if you have enough quality sleep.
The sleep expert, Dr. James Mass, asks the question: Do you need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning? Do you switch off the button on the alarm clock twice before getting out of bed? Do you sleep more hours during the weekend? If so, you can already tell among the millions of people who are deprived of sleep chronically.
It has been estimated that in the US adults sleep an average of 6.9 hours a night, including weekdays and weekends. 40% sleep less than seven hours on weekdays and 71% slept less than 8 hours during the weekend (1). According to James Maas, at least 63 million American adults are moderately sleep deprived and 40 million suffer from one or more of the 81 known sleep disorders. In Australia nearly 90% of people suffering from a sleep disorder at some point in their lives and 30% have severe sleep disorders (2).Almost all high school students and college students need 9.5 hours of sleep to be fully alert, but usually the average is 6 hours at night.
Sleep deprivation costs Americans more than 100 billion dollars a year. Sleep deprivation induces significant reductions in performance and alertness of the people. Unfortunately, reducing sleep 1.5 hours a night can result in a 32% reduction in alertness (3). Studies suggest that sleep five or less hours a night may increase the risk of death by 15% (4).
Consider the following facts:
- Little sleep = More crashes: The Institute of Medicine estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for 20% of all road accidents. This means that sleep sleepy produces millions of accidents, 500,000 injuries and 8,000 deaths each year in the US(5). Researchers from Australia and New Zealand showed that sleep deprivation can have the same harmful effects that the consumption of alcohol. They found that sleep less than 6 hours a night substantially affect coordination, reaction time and judgment. They also found that people who drive after being awake for 17 to 19 hours performance was worse than if they had a blood alcohol level of 0.05% (6). This is the legal limit of alcohol if you are driving. Being awake 22 hours straight delayed reaction time than if they had drunk 4 drinks.
- Little sleep = More cardiovascular disease : Dr. David White and collaborators from Harvard University studied data collected from five countries and found that if you sleep less than 6 or 7 hours a night, the risk of heart attack increases sharply. In their studies, individuals who slept about 5 hours a night were about 40% higher risk of having a heart attack than those who slept eight hours per night (7).
Decreased immune action
In a study involving about 4,033 women under 65, researchers from the National Cancer Institute saw that women who slept less than 7 hours a night had a 47% increased risk of cancer (8). Another study by the same institute found that exercise reduced in women the risk of cancer by 20% but less than 7 hours sleep at night eliminated the anti-cancer benefits that were obtained with exercise (9). In some cases, lack of sleep increases the risk of cancer by 50%. Studies show that even partial sleep deprivation decreases the activity of the cells that fight cancer by 30% (10). These cells ( natural killer ) kill viruses and cancer cells. Sleep deprivation also affects the immune system. A recent study showed that people who slept an average of less than 7 hours a night were three times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to cold than those who slept eight hours. In addition, those individuals who had a better quality of sleep were less likely to catch a cold (11).
Obesity and overweight
People who sleep six hours per night are 23% more likely to be obese than those who sleep 7-9 hours a night Other studies of theAmerican Academy of Sleep Medicine showed that about 33% of those who sleep less than 6 hours at night and 26% of those who sleep nine hours or more were more obese. Those who slept more normally were the thinnest group (12, 13).
A sleep deprivation 2 hours a night for a week in healthy individuals, is also associated with the activity of the inflammatory activity of the body. Even partial sleep deprivation increases levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, all proinflammatory (14). They are important because they are fuel chronic inflammatory disease.
Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has significant effects on mood (15). Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (USA) found that people who slept during the week just 4.5 hours less than recommended, they felt more stressed, angry, sad and mentally exhausted. Fortunately, when these individuals had a normal sleep described an improvement in your mood (16). Sleep problems can contribute to mental disorders. Chronic insomnia can increase individual risk for disorders of mood such as depression or anxiety. In a larger study done with 10,000 adults with insomnia it was found to be 5 times more likely to suffer depression (17). In the same study it was found that there were 20 times more likely to develop panic disorder.
Another study showed that insomnia is a reliable predictor of depression and other psychiatric disorders, including all types of anxiety. The amount of sleep a person also has an impact on the severity of mental symptoms if there is already a tendency towards them or to a mental disorder. Researchers from Harvard and Berkeley in the US They studied the brain scans of participants who had not slept in 25 hours. In most activity of the amygdala (part of the brain responsible for emotional reactions) it was increased by 60% in comparison with participants who slept (18). When the amygdala is hyperactive, fear and emotional responses predominate over reason. Consequently, self-control is impaired.
Types of sleep
There are two types of sleep: sleep with no rapid eye movements (NREM) and REM. The deepest levels of sleep occur in stages 3 and 4 NREM sleep. During this sleep increased blood supply to the muscles occurs and, thus, they are completely relaxed. The respiratory rate and heart and blood pressure decrease. Growth hormone (GH) is released, which facilitates the entry of amino acids into cells thus ribosome synthesis is favored. Therefore, there is a rapid tissue repair, heal wounds, improves the health of the joints, muscles and brain cells are strengthened. Furthermore, growth hormone (GH) favors fat catastrophe. In short, sleep deprivation prevents the synthesis and action of growth hormone and promotes the production of body fat while reducing protein synthesis.
REM is 25% of nighttime sleep. 90 minutes after we were asleep appears and is repeated every 90 minutes being longer as the night progresses. It is also at this stage when dreams occur and neurotransmitters are replenished. REM sleep helps improve memory and retention. It is essential to prepare the mind for the next day.
Sleep effects on the nervous system
Studies show that sleep deprivation has many of the effects of alcohol on the prefrontal cortex, which is the executive control center of the brain. Therefore, our ability to choose, plan and execute our ideas is compromised. Studies soldiers with lack of sleep showed that the lack of it degraded the higher and more complex tasks (19). Especially decreases the efficiency of key areas of the brain involved in speech, language and commemorates. Memory lapses, decreased concentration and impatience are the result of inadequate sleep. People with lack of sleep does not have the speed or creative ability to deal with making quick and logical decisions, nor do they have the capacity to implement them either. Teens who sleep less than eight hours have difficulty with complex tasks (20). Studies have shown that the loss of one hour of optimal sleep affects the ability to perform several tasks (21, 22).
Restricting sleep below optimal levels cause neurobehavioral deficits, including attention spans, slow memory and mood depression. Laboratory studies found that there are also effects on the endocrine and metabolic functions and inflammatory response (23). University researchers and Pennsylvania (USA) found that after a few days with chronic sleep restriction, below 7 hours, significant cognitive dysfunction occurred during the day that accumulated at levels comparable to severe deprivations of sleep (24) . They also found that chronic sleep deprivation is cumulative. Studies showed that we need to sleep 7 to 8 hours to have a good quality sleep at night.
Sleep, nervous system and hypertension centers
Insufficient sleep upsets the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, because during sleep the activity of the sympathetic nervous system generally decreases while the parasympathetic increases. The sympathetic nerves are those that move us in stressful situations. Blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar levels increase while we are in the digestive process that is under the influence of the sympathetic. The parasympathetic nerves reduce heart rate, stimulates the digestive process and helps us to go to the bathroom. Therefore, we need a balance between the two systems. However, excessive sympathetic tone and reduced parasympathetic helps increase blood pressure, diabetes and heart rate change. The Harvard School of Health (USA), for example, studied 4,800 adults between 32 and 59 years. It was found that those who slept an average of less than five hours were 60% more likely to develop hypertension than those who slept six hours or more (25). Also individuals who slept 5 hours or less still had an increased risk of hypertension even after controlling for factors such as obesity, diabetes, physical activity, salt and alcohol consumption, smoking, depression, age, education, gender and ethnicity (26).
Why does this happen? Lack of sleep promotes the influence of the sympathetic nervous system. In addition, an activated sympathetic nervous system, may also accentuate the structural remodeling of blood vessels and major organs that regulate blood pressure, including the heart and kidneys. Also, an activated sympathetic nervous system increases renal sodium retention, which contributes to high blood pressure.
Sleep effects on the endocrine system
As we have seen, lack of sleep increases the influence of the sympathetic nervous system and reduces the parasympathetic.Endocrine glands are susceptible to these influences the autonomic nervous system (27). Normally, sand and anti-inflammatory hormone, cortisol decreases and increases in the afternoon in the morning. However, partial sleep deprivation increases levels of cortisol in the morning (28). This extra cortisol inhibits protein synthesis in the brain and in the, joint, muscle cells of the gastrointestinal tract and immune sisteman so that their actions are involved. Cortisol causes, successively, the release of insulin, and insulin is a hormone that acts storing body fat.
Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, ie, all the chemical processes that occur within the body. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) from the pituitary gland stimulates the thyroid gland to produce its hormones. After 6 days with only four hours of sleep, the hormone TSH is greatly reduced, about 30% (29). Therefore, the production of thyroid hormones decreases.
The regulation of leptin, a hormone related to fat cells and satiety is significantly dependent on the duration of sleep. After sleeping for 6 days only 4 hours a night, it was observed that the concentration of leptin in the plasma decreases, especially during night hours (30).
Lack of sleep and its relationship to obesity and appetite
Studies show that lack of sleep can increase a person’s energy expenditure as much as 15% (31). Chronic lack of sleep can increase the risk of diabetes because it damages the way the body has glucose. A study of 28 000 children and 15 adults showed that sleep deprivation doubles the risk of obesity in both children and adults (32). Lack of sleep increases ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and reduces leptin, the hormone that produces a feeling of satiety (33).
Natural remedies to improve sleep
- Make at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, you can even do it in small segments of time during the day. Studies show that aerobic exercise practiced regularly helps reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
- Gradually reducing caffeine consumption to eliminate it completely. Caffeine reduces the quality of NREM sleep (the dream that most restores), increases the time it takes to fall asleep, favors the impact of stressors and increases the effects of stress hormones. One dose in the morning can interfere with nighttime sleep. It also increases the effects of the sympathetic nervous system.
- Ten regular habits to get up and go to bed. Studies show that fatigue occurs four hours before a regular one that irregular schedule. According to Dr. James Maas, was studied that taking two groups of students who get the same hours, a group will always sleep at the same time and the other group has what we call a “schedule yoyo” ( One night they go to bed at 23 pm and another at 3 in the morning), the first group is significantly more alert than the second group (34).
- Have the room at a comfortable temperature and with a bit of fresh air. The room should be completely dark melanin to a sleep-inducing hormone, antioxidant, reinforcing the immune system and cardiovascular protective occurs.
- The last meal should consist of fruit, or better yet, no dinner if overweight or sedentary. No dinner increases production of growth hormone during sleep. This valuable hormone helps in the starting repair, improves the efficiency of the immune system and increases the body’s ability to burn fat.
- Before going to bed, take a warm bath, immediately go to bed.
- Both pastaflora hops as are herbs as an infusion induce sleep. If you are taking medication, consult your pharmacist before taking any herbs in medicinal amounts in order to avoid a possible drug-herb medicinal interaction.
- If these remedies do not work, consult your doctor.