Sleep, Part 1: What's the big deal?

photo4Sleep, coupled with nutrition are your bodies primary methods of regeneration and recovery from the strains and stress of the day.
When we sleep the blood supplied to muscles is increased, tissue growth and repair occurs. Energy levels are replenished, and beneficial hormones such as hGH and Testosterone are produced.

Everyone needs it – few get enough

In a study[1] of identical cohorts that had comparable exercise levels and caloric intake, one group averaged less than six hours per night, and the other group got more than seven hours of sleep per night. Over the course of a year, the group that got more than seven hours of sleep nightly experienced more than two and one-half pounds of fat loss when compared to the participants that got six hours or less sleep.
You might think ok, but I get so much more done!
Fun fact if you’re regularly getting less than six hours of sleep per evening you’re functioning as if you’re legally intoxicated [2] – Reaction time and decision-making are way down.
But here’s the insidious part, since almost no one recognizes this as a problem, they make no conscious compensations on their part (getting someone else to drive, etc.) leaving them open to potentially catastrophic events.

Shift work – a known carcinogen

There have always been strong ties between shift work and cancer. [3] Since 2009 Denmark recognizes that shift work causes cancer and compensates overnight nurses beyond just the shift differential for the extra risk.[4]

Brain Detox –

As you sleep, your body removes ten times more toxins that when you’re awake. [5] One of these toxins is amyloid-beta, a harmful protein that has been linked with diseases such as Alhezhimer’s.
(Your body accomplish this via the ‘Glymphatic’ system. The glymphatic system works by pumping cerebral spinal fluid through your brain’s tissues. This system flushes the waste from your brain back into your body’s circulatory system.)

Hormone production –

“peak values of growth hormone in the first and second cycle are significantly diminished after selective deprivation of sleep “[6]
hGH production is lowered, and insulin sensitivity blunted. Why do I care about HGH?

  • Increased Energy and Endurance
  • Improved Performance and Recovery
  • Increases Immune System Function
  • HGH Reduces Fat Accumulation and Builds Lean Muscle Mass

So by not sleeping you’re throwing away Mother Nature’s PEDs of choice.
Here’s another fun fact. If we check your blood sugar on day one, and it comes out looking great. Now we mess with your sleep for two nights in a row, guess who looks like a type two diabetic on day three? Yeah.
Anyone here who wants diabetes raise your hand… anybody?

So really, how much is enough? Well, a quick look at the studies quoted above it’s pretty fair to say most adults function better on seven or more hours of sleep.

Next week: Sleep Part 2: The Fixes

[2] Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication
A Williamson and A. Feyer
[3] Shift Work and Cancer
The Evidence and the Challenge
Thomas C Erren, Prof. Dr. med.,*,1 Puran Falaturi, Prof. Dr. med.,1 Peter Morfeld, PD Dr. rer. medic.,2 Peter Knauth, Prof. Dr.-Ing.,3 Russel J Reiter, Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr. h. c. mult.,4 and Claus Piekarski, Prof. em. Dr. med.1
[4]Denmark Pays Compensation for Breast Cancer After Night-Shift Work
[5]Scientists Discover Previously Unknown Cleansing System in Brain
Newer Imaging Technique Brings ‘Glymphatic System’ to Light
[6]Effects of selective sleep deprivation on sleep-linked prolactin and growth hormone secretion.