By Clive Lindley-Jones | November 9, 2010 11:37 am
Losing sleep speeds up the ageing process
In a recent US study, researchers found that just one week of sleep deprivation altered subjects' hormone levels and their capacity to metabolise carbohydrates. During sleep deprivation, the blood sugar levels of the men who participated in the study took 40 per cent longer to drop following a high carbohydrate meal during sleep deprivation compared with during the sleep recovery period.
In addition, when deprived of sleep, the men's ability to secrete and respond to insulin dropped by 30 per cent. The men also had higher night time levels of cortisol, which helps to regulate blood sugar and to lower levels of thyroid stimulating hormone.
Each of these biological responses to sleep deprivation places an individual at greater risk of developing type II or adult onset diabetes. Even if it does not go that far, it is certainly a key element to consider when thinking of weight loss. Both insulin and cortisol have effects on the bodies tendency to retain fat, especially that, hard to shift, belly fat.
The good news, according to the researchers, was that the ‘sleep debt’ could be made up by spending longer than the normal eight hours in bed, which helped to return the body's chemical balance to normal.
The perfect amount of sleep for a long and healthy life
Getting your beauty sleep may also apply to staying in good health as you age. Too little and too much can both increase your risks of premature death. So what’s the ideal amount of sleep you should be getting for a long and healthy life?
Researchers have discovered that the optimum sleep time is anything from six to eight hours every night. If you sleep for six hours or less, you’re 12 per cent more likely to die prematurely, and anything over nine hours of sleep a night suggests an underlying, and possibly fatal, illness.
Researchers from the University of Warwick have concluded that consistently sleeping for six to eight hours every night is optimal for good health. If your sleeping habits aren’t in this ‘golden zone’ don’t worry: sleep is just one marker of good health. It may be you are one of the lucky ones who can thrive with less. If not, check out what might be causing you constant sleep loss. Below are some of the reasons, a few of which you might not have thought of. There are many things we can do to help establish good sleep patterns and it could be one of the major things you do to achieve optimum health.
Meditation can help cure insomnia and sleeplessness
If you can’t sleep, try meditation and deep relaxation techniques. They can help insomniacs and poor sleepers, researchers have discovered – but there’s one unusual aspect to their approach.
Although you would expect people to meditate just before they went to bed, researchers found that it works far better if they do so during the daytime, hours before bedtime.
The research team from the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Evanston, Illinois discovered that insomniacs suffer from ‘hyperarousal’ all the time – and meditating during the day helps break the cycle.
In this months Book of the Month you will learn much more about sleep disorders and good strategies to resolve them that don’t have to rely on the questionable benefits of the use of sleeping pills. Research suggests that the risks clearly outweigh the benefits. Worse, the drugs weren’t especially effective at helping the patient sleep and, yet, they had a devastating affect on daytime activities.
If you suffer from a sleep disorder where should you look for help? Sleep disorders, as Ross, Brenner and Goldberg show in this month’s Book of the Month, can result from a number of different factors, any one of which might be at the root of your problem. Things to check out are:
• Poor Diet and Food Allergies. Stimulants like over the counter drugs, caffeine, spicy food, alcohol, sugar, nicotine, along with possible intolerance's to certain foods could be behind a sleep problem. Some people like me probably have the genetic make up that caffeine stays in our system stimulating it for longer than those other people who can round an evening off with a stiff coffee and still fall straight to sleep a short while later. The key here is to get to know your individual system and remember that some things can have an effect many hours after ingestion.
• Toxic Colon and Liver. If either of these toxin removing systems is not working optimally then not only can bacterial overgrowth and food allergies potentially effect your sleep cycle but such toxic loads can deplete vital vitamins and minerals out of your system that are essential to inducing a good nights sleep.
• Disrupted Circadian Rhythms. We are creatures of this earth subject to subtle but significant influence to many parts of our systems, hormones being just one, so that seasonal changes in light dark, shirt work, lack of exposure to bright day light in the day and lack of full dark at night can all influence us potentially. We are still largely ignorant of the full effect of all the new and all pervasive influences of WI Fi and other electromagnetic field effects, if in doubt try removing mobile phones, electric clocks, TV’s etc from the bedroom, or at least a few meters away from your bed.
• Stress and Psychological factors. Have you ever tried getting to sleep after an unresolved argument? Yes you will know how hard that can be. We are all aware of the tendency we humans have for fretting through the night with our thoughts going round and round. Everything can seem black at four in the morning. Both passing frustrations or disagreements as well as longstanding unresolved psychological issues can deplete your hormonal and nutritional reserves and create havoc in our sleep patterns.
• Geopathic Stress and Environmental toxins. This is a little more obscure but refers to abnormal energy fields, often of an electromagnetic nature , that can come from deep underground from large mineral deposits, water streams, or geological faults. Power lines, household chemicals or gases, disruptive noise levels can all impair the natural melatonin production that eases us into sleep.
• Hormone Imbalances. As both men and women experience hormone changes with age these can effect our ability to sleep, as they too, effect our melatonin levels.
• Structural Imbalances. As well as being a common cause of a lack or regular exercise, one of the great sleep balms, structural imbalances can effect both our spine and the rest of our body influencing the flow of nervous impulses either causing pain or effecting our nervous systems ability to send us the right sleep signals.
If you have a small baby, perhaps it is best to keep them in bed with you and then it takes less to feed them at night, and remember, they do grow up and it won’t be long before, instead of waking you up, you will probably be having to drag them out of bed in the morning!
Good night, sleep well.
Book of the Month
Sleep Disorders: Clinically proven Alternative Therapies to Help You Get a Good Night's Rest by Herbert Ross D.C., Keri Brenner L.Ac., with Burton Goldberg.
I met Herbert Ross some years ago in Hawaii as we had both ended up treating leading Coach and inspirational speaker Anthony Robbins.
In this little book Herb and his team have packed a lot of useful ideas and information for the searcher after a better night's sleep. They start off discussing the basis of sleep and what it does for us and then go on to outline the major types of sleep disorders we can be prone to.
From there they go on to show how, at times improving your diet and detoxifying your body you can have helpful effects on your sleep patterns. They discuss resetting your body clock and resolving emotional issues before looking at how to protect yourself from a Toxic Environment that can effect your chances of a good sleep from Electromagnetic fields through Geopathic stress to Feng Shui.
Finally they explore the role of hormones in sleep and how to balance them and the influence of your structure and exercise on sleep.
There is plenty to get your teeth into here, but perhaps it is better you don't take this book to bed with you!