September 5, 2018 - Wellness
Jane McDonald, guest contributor
Sleep is crucial to our well-being as humans. We need 7-9 hours per night and yet only a third of Americans sleep enough. This not only makes us feel tired when we wake, but new research has shown that it makes us put on weight, increasing our chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Alongside this, inadequate sleep affects our brain to such an extent that it makes us more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. In this way, investing in comfortable, good quality bedding should not be regarded as an unnecessary extravagance; rather, a very important part of our sleeping environment.
We need to do all we can to enable us to sleep adequately. This means going to bed early enough each night and ensuring your bedroom is relaxing and as sleep-inducing as possible.
Recent studies from the have revealed that prolonged lack of sleep can be as detrimental to your brain as drinking too much alcohol. The risks to your health and functionality on a day to day basis are therefore significant. What is more, researchers from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda recently discovered a correlation between poor sleep and disruptions in the brain commonly observed in Alzheimer’s patients.
After just one night of bad sleep, participants in the study were found to have experienced significant increases of amyloid-beta in their brains. Amyloid-beta is a peptide regularly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. With this sort of impact after just one night of disrupted sleep, it makes more profound side effects for the brain more likely - and irreversible. Therefore, finding ways to help calm the mind and bring on sleep could not be more crucial.
In addition to significant effects on our brain health, new studies published in the journal Sciences Advances have shown that even just one night of impaired sleep can make men, in particular, more likely to put on weight. Researchers studied 15 healthy young males and found that, after a single night of no sleep, their bodies underwent changes that promote weight gain.
Along with early indications of an increase in the breakdown of muscle tissue, the amount of potential body fat was also shown to have increased. With muscle proteins not being able to process blood sugar properly and use it as energy, one theory is that sustained sleep deprivation inhibits the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. This leads to a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
It may often feel that adequate sleep is impossible to come by. However, given its significant influence on our mental and physical health, it is vital to do all you can to sleep well regularly. Start by going to bed at a reasonable time each night. In addition, focus on making your bedroom a sleep-inducing environment: keep it sparse, softly lit and quiet. Keep electronic devices and other distractions out of sight and try to focus on some gentle breathing. By prioritizing sleep in this way every day, you give yourself the best chance possible of enjoying adequate, restorative rest.