Dr Dingle's Blog / sleep deprived
In today’s busy and hectic society many see sleep as a luxury rather than what it is – a necessity. More and more people are working overtime, and shift work trying to juggle a busy family life around their work. Along with this, it is not unusual for both parents to be working full time. The advent of our 24/7 society has pushed regular sleep to the side. Because of this, many men and women (and even children) wrongly consider sleep a waste of time.
Sleep is an essential element of the human body, without it we cannot survive. Getting enough sleep is associated with energy, joy, optimistic thinking and coping with negative emotions. Despite this almost 90 percent of Australians suffer from some type sleep disorder at some stage of their lives. Of these, 30 percent suffer from severe sleep disorders. Very few people regularly enjoy the amount or quality of sleep that they need. The estimated economic costs to the country from this are between $3 billion and $7 billion annually. There are also huge, unmeasured physical, psychological, emotional and social costs.
Sleep is complicated in the way that there are many different factors that influence the effectiveness of sleep. It’s not just duration that determines the effectiveness of said sleep, factors such as quality, frame of mind and deepness all contribute to the maximum desired outcome and even our perception of how we sleep. Many factors can play a part in the quality and quantity of our sleep and to maximise our sleep time an understanding of this is essential.
On average a healthy person will spend around one third of their life sleeping (Duman et al, 2009). Sleep is considered a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes will usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost resulting in a decrease in bodily movements and responsiveness to external stimuli (Blanch et al, 2009). Inadequate hours of good quality sleep leads to a disruption to vital biological processes resulting in a decrease in cognitive function mental and physical health (Anderson et al, 2009) including impaired work performance due to a decrease in attention, judgement and responsible decision making (Volkow, 2009).
Why we sleep
Mammals are naturally diurnal animals and sleep for humans are broken into two distinct phases. These phases, Non Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM), represent the depth of sleep and electrical activity in the central nervous system (CNS) (Cirelli & Tononi, 2008). However, sleep is a heightened anabolic state where rejuvenation of many organ systems occurs, especially the immune and nervous systems. NREM is further broken into phases one to three during which have different waves of sleep and cognitive perceptions, phase one for example is associated with hyper‑CNS responses. During this phase the body may quickly jerk out of steep and this will be felt as a falling sensation (Walsh, 2009). Various genetic mutations have been associated with sleep including DEC2 mutations that lower the sleep requirement from eight hours to six and the 600072 prion gene that predisposes to Fatal Familial Insomnia (Kniff in, 2009; McKusick and Kniffin, 2009). The natural circadian rhythms of the body are a result of variations in levels of circulating melatonin hormone, from the pineal gland, and also adenosine levels which increase over the course of the day (Imeri & Opp, 2009).
Among the theories on why humans sleep, scientists have proposed the following:
Sleep may be a way of recharging the brain. The brain has a chance to shut down and repair neurons and to exercise important neuronal connections that might otherwise deteriorate due to lack of activity or over activity.
Sleep gives the brain an opportunity to reorganize data to help find a solution to problem, process newly learned information and organize and archive memories.
Sleep lowers a person’s metabolic rate and energy consumption.
The cardiovascular system also gets a break during sleep. People with normal or high blood pressure experience a 20 to 30% reduction in blood pressure and 10 to 20% reduction in heart rate.
During sleep, the body has a chance to replace chemicals and repair muscles, other tissues and aging or dead cells.
In children and young adults, growth hormones are released during deep sleep (World Federation of Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine Societies
Immune function is highest when we sleep
Detoxing. There appear to be “hidden caves” inside the brain, which open up during sleep, allowing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to flush out potential neurotoxins, like β-amyloid, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The research discovered “hidden caves” inside the brain, which open up during sleep, allowing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to flush out potential neurotoxins, like β-amyloid, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The interstitial spaces in the mouse’s brain took up only 14% of the brain’s volume while it was awake. Yet, while it slept, this increased by almost two-thirds to take up fully 23% of the brain’s total volume. The effect is that potential neurotoxins, like β-amyloid, are cleared twice as fast during sleep as during waking. While many neurological diseases, like strokes and dementia, are associated with problems sleeping. It could be that lack of sleep, and restriction of the brain’s cleaning system, may cause toxic metabolites to building up, leading to long-term damage.
Most likely we sleep for a combination of these reasons
Part 2 and more coming
Sleep, like most other processes in our body, is mediated by the interaction of cytokines and chemokines with neurotransmitters (Dilger & Johnson, 2008). During infection our sleep patterns change and interactions of cytokines, especially IL‑1 and IL‑1 2 and the neurotransmitter serotonin amplify (Dantzer et al. 2008; Lange et at. 2006). During sleep, it has been suggested that, the synapses not used during the day's activities are given an opportunity to prime and regenerate, cognitive function also rejuvenates, memories are consolidated and on a cellular level glycogen stores can re‑fuel. However, sleep deprivation has been associated with inflammatory based diseases including obesity, Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes (lmeri & Opp, 2009).
Sleep deprivation has been shown to further enhance end stage renal disease, decrease vaccine efficacy as attested with both Influenza and Hepatits A vaccines, prolong wound healing, lengthen critical care stays and enhance depression or other psychiatric disorders (Lange et al. 2003; Miller et al. 2004; Koch et al. 2009).
Several recent studies report that reducing sleep to 6.5 or fewer hours for successive nights causes potentially harmful metabolic, hormonal and immune changes. All of the changes are similar to those detected in the normal aging process (Cobb, 2002) and so sleep deprivation could be the biggest indicator of how long you live (Sateia, et al., 2004). There is a strong link between sleep deprivation and low immune system function (Redwine, et al., 2003). A reduction of sleep makes people more prone to infection and potentially more prone to cancer; one study found that poor sleep was associated with a 60 percent increase in breast cancer.
In one study of 153 volunteers who spent less time in bed, or who spent their time in bed tossing and turning instead of snoozing, were much more likely to catch a cold when viruses were dripped into their noses, while those who slept longer and more soundly resisted infection better. The study showed that even relatively minor sleep disturbances can influence the body's reaction to cold viruses ( Cohen et al Archives of Internal Medicine). The men and women who reported fewer than seven hours of sleep on average were 2.94 times more likely to develop sneezing, sore throat and other cold symptoms than those who reported getting eight or more hours of sleep each night. Volunteers who spent less than 92 percent of their time in bed asleep were 5 1/2 times more likely to become ill than better sleepers, they found.
Sleep deprivation also contributes to the physiological state known as fatigue. A fatigued person is accident prone and judgment impaired. After approximately 20 hours of no sleep, reaction times are comparable to having a blood alcohol reading of .08. Staying awake for 24 hours leads to a reduced hand‑to‑eye coordination that is similar to having a blood alcohol content of 0.1. An example of a sleep deprivation accident occurred when a space shuttle mission was aborted 30 seconds before lift‑off because a technician who had worked several consecutive l2hr shifts accidentally released 18,000 pounds of liquid fuel just minutes before the scheduled flight. An investigation of the Challenger space shuttle disaster attributed ground crew fatigue as one of the factors contributing to the disaster. An incident such as this shows the seriousness of the situation and the potential loss of life through human related errors in technical fields. Even operating simple machinery such as forklifts can become extremely dangerous if the operators are not filly alert. Other examples of work related sleep deprivation include a flight which flew 100 miles out over the Pacific before controllers on the ground were able to wake the pilots up using chimes, piped into the cockpit audio. It is common practice for flight attendants to check in on pilots to ensure they do not fall asleep. The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred on a ship with a crew that had had very little sleep, with the accident happening in the middle of the night.
45 to 80% of all nursing home residents suffer from chronic pain and this pain is strongly linked to insomnia (Dodla and Lyons, 2006). In Japan a survey conducted by Tanaka and Shirakawa (2004) found that one in five Japanese people suffer from insomnia, and within the elderly population one in three suffer, because of this the Japanese government increased the needs of insomnia patients at community health sites and names insomnia a refactory disease of the 21st centuary. A similar Honk Kong based study found 11.9% of Chinese people living in Honk Kong suffer from insomnia approximately three times a week and the females were 1.6 times more likely to show symptoms of insomnia than males (Li et a!. 2002).
Accidents, errors and Risk taking
Studies using card games have found that with little sleep, players get stuck in a strategic rut. Sleepy people keep taking risks, even though it’s obviously not working for them.
A study of musicians who practised a new song had improved in speed and accuracy compared with before a night’s sleep. a good night’s sleep can also improve motor performance.
In a study of 1891 male employees compared with those working 6-8 h day(-1) with good sleep characteristics, positive interactive effects for workplace injury were found between long work hours (>8-10 h day(-1) or >10 h day(-1) ) and short sleep duration (<6 h). This study suggests that long work hours coupled with poor sleep characteristics are synergistically associated with increased risk of workplace injury. Greater attention should be paid to manage/treat poor sleep and reduce excessive work hours to improve safety at the workplace (Nakata 2011).
A study looking at the effect of working “standard shifts” (that is, the traditionally accepted long, sleepless shifts) for hospital interns showed that the interns made 36 percent more serious medical errors during a standard work schedule compared to during an intervention schedule that eliminated extended work shifts. The errors included significantly more serious medication errors and 5.6 times as many serious diagnostic errors. As a consequence, the overall rates of serious medical errors were significantly higher during the standard schedule than during the intervention schedule (Landrigan, 2004). Fortunately, most serious medical errors were either intercepted by people who were awake and concentrating or did not result in clinically detectable harm to the patient. How does this affect you? It might be all right if you could always go into hospital at the beginning of the shift or be operated on only by doctors who had just started a shift.
One study found that interns who worked 24-hour shifts made 36 percent more medical errors than those working 16-hour shifts and five times the number of diagnostic errors, and were 61 percent more likely to accidentally cut themselves during procedures.
The study found that the rates of serious medical errors in two intensive care units “were lowered by eliminating extended work shifts and reducing the number of hours interns worked each week.” By asking interns to work less, the hospitals improved their performance.
A number of studies have highlighted the increased number of motor vehicle accidents associated with young adults driving fatigued. It’s conservatively estimated that at least 112 lives could be saved in Australia if fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel were eliminated.
Several studies have highlighted the increased number of motor vehicle accidents associated with young adults driving while fatigued. Fatigue is estimated to be responsible for 35 percent of road accidents. It’s conservatively estimated that at least 112 lives could be saved in Australia every year if fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel were eliminated. In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that fatigue and sleep deprivation contribute to about 100,000 highway crashes each year, causing more than 1,500 deaths annually (Sullivan, 2003). At a grander level the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have each been attributed to human errors in which sleep deprivation played a role (Grunstein, 2000).
Research on 59 participants, those who were confirmed night owls (preferring late to bed and late to rise) had lower integrity of the white matter in various areas of the brain (Rosenberg et al 2014). Lower integrity in these areas has been linked to depression and cognitive instability.
Sleep and weight
Obesity in another disorder linked with insomnia. Research shows that diets that are higher in saturated fats are more susceptible to chronic diseases and disorders which includes insomnia (Novak et al. 1995). This is an alarming fact as 20% of the population of the United States of American are overweight or obese (Patterson et al. 2004).
Many studies, including one spanning twenty years, have tested the hypothesis that sleep and obesity are linked and the majority of results show positive correlations (Gangwisch et al. 2005). Further studies, with over 500,000 total participants via meta‑analysis have supported obesity and insomnia in adults and children (Cappuccio et al. 2008). The trends of increasing BMI and reduced sleep hours appear to go hand in hand, along with sleeping troubles related to Sleep Apnoea often seen in obese patients.
This link between Obesity and the symptoms of its associated diseases demonstrates a common trend towards diminishing an individual’s peak performance. Obesity and many of the health conditions which result from it increase the lower productivity levels associated with lower mental and cognitive functioning.
Obesity is also a serious factor in poor sleep habits. In a number of studies obesity was associated with "reduced sleeping hours " (Ko et al (2007). Obesity, particularly abdominal and upper body obesity, is the most significant risk factor for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Patients with sleep apnea often experience daytime sleepiness and difficulty concentrating (Teran-Santos et al, 1999). Studies have also shown a strong association between sleep apnea and the risk of traffic accidents (Terán-Santos et al (1999). In fact, subjects suffering from sleep apnea were at a higher risk than those who had consumed alcohol to be involved in a traffic accident. This has major implications, particularly for overweight and obese workers using any form of equipment of driving vehicles.
This lack in sleep will then leave the employee going to the work already feeling tired, irritable and stressed, therefore making it difficult to concentrate, and highly increasing the chances of being injured or making a mistake which may put fellow workmates in danger (Lynch, 2005) It is situations like this, where the worker comes to work already feeling tired, that the employee is putting his safety and other's safety at risk.
Shift workers are known to be a high-risk group for obesity. In the current study population, rotating-shift workers showed a higher distribution of the highest body mass index compared with daytime workers
In a study of the brains of 24 participants after both a good and a bad night’s sleep. after disturbed sleep, there was increased activity in the depths of the brain, areas which are generally associated with rewards and automatic behaviour. It seems a lack of sleep robs people of their self-control and so their good intentions are quickly forgotten.
What we have discovered is that high-level brain regions required for complex judgments and decisions become blunted by a lack of sleep, while more primal brain structures that control motivation and desire are amplified.”
In other words: lack of sleep robs people of their self-control and so their good intentions are quickly forgotten.
On top of this, the researchers found that after being deprived of sleep, participants displayed greater craving for high-calorie junk food. The more sleep-deprived they were, the greater the cravings. A stufy of 13,284 teenagers found that those who slept poorly also made poor decisions about food. Similarly, a Swedish study found that at a buffet, tired people were more likely to load up their plates.
The link has even been made from poor sleep through to food shopping. A Swedish study found that men who were sleep-deprived bought, on average, 9% more calories than those who’d had a good night’s sleep. These results were likely the result of the poor decision-making. It had been thought that the tendency to eat more after poor sleep was related to the so-called ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin. But the latest studies suggest that it’s simple self-control that is most important in causing the sleep-deprived to over-indulge.
Many sleep problems but by far the biggest is sleep deprivation and poor sleep. However too much sleep can also be a problem. Over sleeping may also be a problem. In one study sleeping 10 hours or more also increased the mortality rates by one and a half times.
Sleep is as important to the human body as food and water, but most of us don't get enough sleep. Dysoninia (poor sleep) related sleep disorders alone are broken into Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Circadian‑Rhythm sleep disorders including disorders such as but not limited to: "Psychophysiologic Insomnia, Sleep State Misperception Idiopathic Insomnia, Narcolepsy, Recurrent Hypersomnia, Idiopathic Hypersomnia...Restless Legs Syndrome & Intrinsic Sleep Disorder NOS" (MSM, 2001, pp. 27).
Risk factors for sleep related illness are diet, lifestyle, occupation, stress and grief, amongst many others (Helmanis, 2006 pp. 24‑25).
Almost 90 per cent of Australians suffer from some type sleep disorder at some stage of their lives. Of these, 30 per cent suffer from severe sleep disorders. Very few people regularly enjoy the amount, or quality of sleep that they need. The estimated economic costs to the country from this are between 3 and 7 billion dollars annually. There are also huge, unmeasured physical, psychological, emotional and social costs.
Causative factors for insomnia may be multifaceted but generally include some psycho physiologic hyperarousal or emotional distress. Other precursors may be pain, movement disorders, psychiatric disorders, circadium rhythm dysfunction, medication and substance abuse (Billiard and Bentley, 2004). In some cases, the risk of insomnia is subject to a genetic bias. However, specific physiologic indicators for the familial influence have not been fully identified (Parkes and Lock, 2009).
Insomnia is the difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or both resulting in inadequate quality or quantity of sleep (Tomoda et al, 2009). Insomnia can manifest itself by many symptoms from not being able to sleep at normal hours and low quality and quantity of sleep to sleeping but not finding it refreshing. Other symptoms may include daytime sleepiness, frequent waking, early morning waking and difficulty retuning to sleep (Cureresearch.com, 2005).
Most adults have experienced insomnia or sleeplessness at one time or another in their lives (Straker, 2008). It is estimated that insomnia effects around 30-50% of the general population with 10% experiencing chronic insomnia (Straker, 2008). It has been estimated that in the US that 70 million people suffer sleep problems, and of these, 30 million suffer chronic insomnia (Stahura and Martin, 2006). Recently a survey showed that 1046 of the 2000 adults surveyed experience at least one night of lost sleep due to insomnia symptoms; the survey also concluded that insomnia is a growing issue of concern (Goolsby, 2006).
Insomnia generally affects women more than men and the incidence rate tends to increase with age (Straker, 2008).
There is a clear correlation of age to insomnia (Curless et a!. 1993). A number of surveys have reported between 28% and 64% of post menopausal women suffer from insomnia (Hachul de Campos et al. 2006).
Insomnia can be classified into three categories transient, short-term and chronic insomnia (Tomoda et al, 2009). Transient insomnia are symptoms lasting less than one week, short term insomnia are symptoms lasting between one-three weeks and chronic insomnia are those symptoms lasting longer than three weeks (Tomoda, 2009).
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes overwhelming and severe day time sleepiness (Retsas et al, 2000). Pathologic sleepiness is characterised by the fact that it occurs at inappropriate times and places (Retsas et al, 2000). These daytime sleep attacks may occur with or without warning and can occur repeatedly in a single day (Edgar et al, 2006). People who suffer from Narcolepsy often have fragmented night time sleep with frequent brief awakenings (Edgar et al, 2006).
Narcolepsy is typically characterised by the following four symptoms:
Excessive daytime sleepiness (90%)
Cataplexy: A sudden and temporary loss of muscle tone often triggered by emotions such as laughter. (75%)
Hallucinations: Vivid dreamlike experiences that occur while falling asleep or upon wakening. (30%)
Sleep paralysis: Paralysis that occurs most often upon falling asleep or waking up. The person is unable to move for a few minutes. (25%) (Retsas et al, 2000)
Interestingly, regular night time sleep schedule and scheduled naps during the day is required for favourable outcomes (Edgar et al, 2006).
Sleep apnoea affects over 12 million Americans with it being more prevalent in men than women (Sjosten et al, 2009). Sleep apnoea not only deprives sleep from the individual but their partners too (Yip, 2001). Sleep apnoea is defined as frequent and loud snoring and breathing cessation for at least 10 second for five or more episodes per hour followed by awakening abruptly with a loud snort as the blood oxygen level drops (Sjorsten et al, 2009). People with sleep apnoea can experience anywhere between 5 apnoeic episodes per hour to several hundred per night (Sjorsten et al, 2009).
Symptoms of sleep apnoea are:
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Obesity is the major cause of sleep apnoea often losing weight is all that is need to treat this disorder (Yip, 2001).
Part 3 and more coming
The benefits of sleep include:
Being physically and mentally alert;
Having more energy;
Making fewer mistakes (including causing accidents);
Feeling psychologically and emotionally recovered;
and to experience:
Improved cognitive function;
Higher stress tolerance and resilience;
Normal body balance;
Reduced risk of CVD, diabetes and cancer;
Living longer; and
during sleep the mind is cataloguing our memories and deciding what to keep and what to throw away it is making memories stronger. It also seems to be reorganizing and restructuring memories.
It’s not possible to learn something new when you sleep, like a foreign language, but you can reinforce something you already know.One study found that students learned to play a series of musical notes better after listening to them during a 90-minute nap. The research shows that memory is strengthened for something you’ve already learned. Rather than learning something new in your sleep.
A review of studies on sleep found that we tend to hold on to the most emotional parts of our memories.
Getting enough sleep is associated with energy, joy, optimistic thinking and coping with negative emotions.
Stages of Sleep
4 to 8
Transition between sleep and wakefulness
Eyes begin to roll and close
Consists of mostly theta waves with some brief periods of alpha waves (similar to waves of wakefulness)
Stage lasts 5-10 mins
8 to 15
Brain wave peaks become higher
Spontaneous periods of muscle tone mixed with periods of muscle relaxation
Heart rate and temperature decrease
Stage last 5-10 mins
2 to 4
Deep Sleep or Delta sleep
Very slow brain waves
0.5 to 2
The last of deep sleep before REM begins.
Consist mostly of Delta waves
Beta waves have a high frequency and occur when the brain is active when asleep and awake.
Frequent bursts of rapid eye movement (REM) and muscle twitches.
Increase in heart and breathing rate
Vivid dreaming occurs here.
When a person falls asleep and wakes up is largely determined by their circadian rhythm, a day-night cycle of about 24 hours. Circadian rhythms greatly influence the timing, amount and quality of sleep (Lockley et al. 1997).
Literally hundreds of circadian rhythms have been identified in mammals (Campbell 1993). Among the numerous systems and functions mediated by the circadian timing system are, hormonal output, core body temperature and metabolism. The circadian clock is believed to sit in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) located in the hypothalamus of the brain. It was thought that processes now linked with circadian timing e.g. sleep wake cycles, were due solely to environmental cues, for example solar activity, it is now recognised however that these biological rhythms are regulated by factors inherent to the organism (Campbell 1993). A circadian rhythm displays a 24 hour cycle of wakefulness and sleep synchronised with the world’s night/day clock (Mansuy et al, 2003). Everyone’s cycle will vary depending on behavioural and psychological factors (Mansuy et al, 2003). The most typical pattern will be low alertness in the mornings as we wake, to highly alert mid afternoon (Swain et al, 2007).
The natural circadian rhythm in the body, which maintains a regular sleep-wake cycle, makes important contributions to physiological processes and psychological health. The normal rhythm is reset daily by the influence of bright light in the morning. Shift-workers, who may work at night and sleep in the daytime, and blind people may have difficulty maintaining a normal sleep-wake cycle because the natural environmental cues are miss-timed (Morris 1999). Studies show that shift work is one the greatest influencing factor causing an alteration in an individual’s cycle along with sleeping disorders (Baulk, 2008). Altering the circadian cycle can lead to periods of decreased alertness leaving people extremely vulnerable to accidents and injuries (Andersen et al, 2009).
Our sleep patterns appear to be polyphasic. In one experiment, subjects were exposed to 14 hours of darkness; then they remained in a state of quiet rest for about two hours before falling asleep. They then slept for four hours, awakened from a dream, spent another two-hour period in quiet rest, and then fell asleep again for four hours more. The subjects awoke at 6 a.m. each morning from their dream sleep and then spent two hours in quiet rest before arising at 8 a.m. These subjects followed their own natural rhythms, sleeping for eight hours with blocks of time at quiet rest (Wehr, S.E, 1996). This polyphasic sleep appears to be a pattern in many mammals. We experience hypnagogic imagery – a state described as dreaming, drowsy, floating, wandering – every night just before we fall asleep. Every night before we go to sleep we spend a few minutes in a state of relaxed wakefulness characterised by drifting thoughts and alpha brainwaves.
Another interesting method for lessening the impact of sleep deprivation was through a study that found there were certain hours better to sleep through the night. A new Stanford University study on the science of sleep deprivation suggests that early morning sleep is more restful than a middle‑of‑the‑night nap. In a study of two groups of men they found that early‑morning sleepers scored higher on wakefulness tests and on measures of sleep efficiency. (Stratton, 2003) Although this study shows that there may some advantages to when you get your sleep it is more an avoidance of the problem rather than a solution.
We are also influenced not just by sleep but also our perceptions of its quality. If we think we’ve had a wonderful sleep last night, we feel and perform better, even if our sleep was actually the same as usual. In this study researchers randomly told some people they’d had better sleep than others after they were hooked up to some placebo brain sensors). When they were given a cognitive test the next day, those who’d been told they slept the best also did the best in the test.
Part 3 and more coming
The latest research shows just one night poor sleep increases the protein amyloid beta which is associated with AD. However, a week of tossing and turning leads to an increase in another brain protein, tau, which research has linked to brain damage in Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
The brains of people with Alzheimer’s are dotted with plaques of amyloid beta protein and tangles of tau protein, which together cause brain tissue to atrophy and die.
Amyloid plaque formation, an early necessary step in Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis, is associated with sleep disruption in a bi-directional manner. Sleep deprivation acutely increases soluble amyloid-β and chronically increases amyloid plaques in mouse, and one night of total sleep deprivation increases soluble amyloid-β in humans
Other research has shown one of the strongest inks with the development of AD has been blood sugar levels. Even those with prediabetes levels.
Sleep is as important to the human body as food and water, but most of us still don’t get enough sleep. We obtain treatment for illness or injury – yet we generally fail to seek help when we aren’t getting enough sleep. The average length of sleep has declined from around 9 hours a hundred years ago to seven hours today. And the depth of sleep has also declined.
Sleep is complicated in the way that there are many different factors that influence the effectiveness of sleep. It’s not just duration that determines the effectiveness of sleep, factors such as quality, frame of mind and deepness all contribute to the maximum desired outcome and even our perception of how we sleep. Many factors can play a part in the quality and quantity of our sleep.
On average a healthy person will spend around one third of their life sleeping. Inadequate hours of good quality sleep leads to a disruption to vital biological processes resulting in a decrease in mental and physical health including impaired cognitive function and lower productivity and work performance due to a decrease in attention, judgment and responsible decision making.
Numerous studies have also shown that even a little bit of sleep deprivation decreases efficiency and increases risk of disease, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Some of the physical effects found from long term fatigue are heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders, depression eating disorders and weight gain. Sleep deprivation has also been shown to negatively affect endocrine (hormones) and metabolic functioning as well as nervous system balance. A recent meta-analysis which included 122,501 subjects found that insomnia determined an increased relative risk of 45% of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease during the follow-up.
Sleep debt has been found to lead to elevated evening cortisol levels and impaired glucose tolerance and is a risk factors for the development of insulin resistance and perhaps type 2 diabetes.
Obesity is another disorder linked with sleep with sleep deprivation. Many studies, including one spanning twenty years, have shown increasing weight gain with poor sleep. Shift workers for example are known to be a high-risk group for obesity.
While many factors can contribute to insomnia and poor sleep undoubtedly the most important one in the twenty first century is stress. Increasing research shows that there is an activation of the stress-response system and the degree of sleep disturbance experienced correlates with the level of stress-response activation and that insomniacs and others with poor sleep patterns experience more psychological stress.
Unfortunately, there can be a vicious cycle of stress poor sleep and more stress. If you are not getting enough sleep, you have to rely more and more on your alarm clock, and if you oversleep and wake up already fatigued. Thus, a person who is always feeling tired – even after a good night’s sleep – may have overworked adrenal glands.
Cortisol levels are highest in the morning and decrease gradually throughout the day. The body develops a routine, and cortisol is secreted at roughly the same amounts at a particularly time of day, depending on levels of stress. If an individual does not receive enough sleep they will produce more cortisol than they would on a normal routine day. Studies also show that stress and elevated levels of cortisol actually inhibit the ability to fall asleep, further exacerbating stress symptoms.
In another study although all subjects reported equivalent numbers of daily stressful events, people with insomnia found the impacts of these events to be more severe. Insomniacs also experienced major life events more intensely, were much more alert before bedtime, viewed their lives as more stressful, and used emotionally-based coping strategies to deal with stress more often than did the normal sleeper group. It appears that although normal sleepers and insomniacs experience similar types of stressful inputs in insomniacs the stress-response is more sensitive to these inputs and its activation leads to lack of sleep.
The effects of sleep deprivation can include fatigue, reduced productivity, slower reflexes and reactions, moodiness and a lack of energy, mimicking many of the characteristics of stress. The more hours we spend awake, the more sluggish our minds become, according to the findings. One night without sleep reduces our brains ability to take in new information by nearly 40 percent, due to a shutdown of brain regions during sleep deprivation. Impaired sleep function decreases the neuroplasticity in the central nervous system resulting in diminished cognitive function as impulse transmission are impaired. Sleep is the regenerative time for the Central nervous system and nerves, without which brain atrophy and weakened conduction can result.
Brains that are sleep deprived aren’t as efficient and have to work harder. Exactly want you don’t want. Studies show the brains of the sleep deprived desperately pumping energy into the prefrontal cortex, trying to overcome the effects of sleep deprivation.
Sleep plays an important role in consolidating memories. While we sleep, our brain orders, integrates and makes sense of things that have happened to us. Not only that, but we seem to consolidate our learning while we sleep. Without sleep the process is badly disrupted, meaning it’s difficult to lay down long-term memories and it’s harder to learn new skills. Sleep deprivation causes many of the powers of focus and attention to decline which partly explains the distracted feeling you get when tired. Sleep deprived people easily get stuck in thinking loops and as a result fall back on the brain’s automated systems, our habits.
Perhaps it is time we valued sleep more and turned off the TV and computer earlier so we can be healthier and smarter the next day. 3 extra steps you can try to reduce stress related poor sleep include;
Meditate a few minutes before you go to sleep;
Try a sleep supplement from your local health food store; and
Don’t eat late and go for a little walk after dinner.