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Enjoy Good Night Sleep and Live Longer

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There is strong evidence supporting the argument that the amount of time you sleep—even more than whether you smoke, exercise, or have high blood pressure or cholesterol levels—could be the most important predictor of how long you'll live.

On average, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep to stay healthy every night.  Those who slept 5 hours or less a night had a 15% greater mortality risk compared with those sleeping 7 hours.  While not getting enough sleep is clearly associated with increased health risks, so is getting too much sleep[17]. Those who slept 9 hours had a 42% increase in mortality risk.  

Note that it's not only how many hours you sleep is important, but also when you sleep is important. For example, nationally, night-shift workers have a 30% higher incidence rate of cancer.


Why Good Night Sleep Is Essential?

A good night sleep can relax, recharge, and repair. Your body can't do this during the day. Researchers have found that a good night sleep[1-3]:
  • Helps in healing and repair of our heart and blood vessels
    • Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. 
  • Helps fighting obesity
    • Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
    • One study of teenagers showed that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up.
    • Scientists are now convinced that increased sleep deprivation is related to the obesity epidemic[7,8,22].
  • Helps our immune system
    • Our immune system releases proteins called cytokines which can help us deal with stress, fight infections and decrease inflammation in the body. When we don't get enough sleep, these protective proteins and other important infection-fighting cells are reduced.  
    • It is known that acute and chronic sleep deprivation can decrease body's number of natural killer cells and reduce activity of those natural killer cells. Hence make us more vulnerable to colds and infections.  
  • Supports healthy growth and development
    • Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults. 
    • Sleep also plays a role in puberty and fertility.
    • As soon as you hit deep sleep, about 20 to 30 minutes after your first close your eyes and then again during each sleep cycle, your pituitary gland starts to release high levels of growth hormone—the most it will secrete at any point in the day[5].
  • Too little sleep may fuel insulin resistance
    • Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes[21].
    • After four nights of sleep deprivation (sleep time was only 4.5 hours per night), study participants' insulin sensitivity was 16 percent lower, while their fat cells' insulin sensitivity was 30 percent lower, and rivaled levels seen in those with diabetes or obesity[16].
    • Researchers at the University of Chicago found that losing just 3 to 4 hours of sleep over a period of several days is enough to trigger metabolic changes that are consistent with a prediabetic state.[6]
  • Helps learning and memory
    • Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation
    • In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later
  • Helps mental acuity[5]
    • Lack of sleep played a role in the Three Mile Island meltdown, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle.
  • Helps your mood[9]
    • Sleep deficiency  may
      • Result in mood problems and depression
      • Make people more vulnerable to the development of anxiety disorders
      • Worsen ADHD (Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) symptoms
    • 5 to 10% of the adult population in Western industrialized countries suffer from chronic insomnia, making it another likely contributor to the depression epidemic.
    • Studies report that about 90% of patient with major depression have difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep.
  • Improves Circulation[5]
    • Sleep deprivation leads to poor circulation (circulation is how hair and skin get their nutrients), poor sleep is linked to facial wrinkles and thinning hair.

How to Get a Good Night Sleep?

  • Treat Allergies
    • Allergies can interfere your good night sleep.
  • Regular Bedtime
    • Trying to go to bed and arise at the same time each day may help
    • Sleep when your body is ready to sleep.  Don't stay up  beyond regular bedtime.
  • Try Chamomile Tea[5]
    • Chamomile tea contains a GABA-like compound and is proffered as a sleep aid. 
    • Sip a cup of chamomile tea one to two hours before bed may help sleep.   Don’t drink so much that you wake up to go to the bathroom.
  • Try Melatonin for short term
    • Melatonin can help reset your internal clock and thus help you overcome jet lag or temporary difficulty in sleeping.
    • Dr. Andrew Weil take it most nights both for its effect on sleep and dreaming and for its useful influence on immunity[9].  However, Dr. Breus doesn't recommend it[5].
    • Try cherry juice because it’s naturally high in melatonin[4]
      • In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, participants who drank tart cherry juice twice a day fell asleep sooner than when they drank a placebo beverage.
  • Avoid daytime napping
    • Naps may provide a short-term boost in alertness and performance. However, napping doesn't provide all of the other benefits of night-time sleep. 
  • Know the Nos
    • No alcohol or nicotine for 1 1/2 hours before bed.
    • No exercise that makes you sweat for 1 1/2 hours before bed.
    • No caffeine for at least 3 hours before bed.
    • No eating 3 hours before bed.
  • Treat all medical conditions that may have been linked to sleep disorders
    • These conditions include heart failure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke or transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke), depression, GERD, Sleep Apnea and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
    • Get help for obstructive Sleep Apnea
      • Using MRI brain scans, researchers at UCLA detected a loss of brain tissue in sleep apnea patients similar to that seen in Alzheimer's.
      • For people with sleep apnea, his/her brain SPECT scan will show severe decreased activity in the back half of his brain.
    • If you have GERD or acid reflux and you eat something in the evening that aggravates it, your symptoms will interfere with sleep.
  • Manage your stress
  • Get some exercise every day
  • Set your room temperature to be between 60 to 68 degrees[4]
    • In one recent study, University of Pittsburgh researchers found that when insomniacs wore a special cap designed to lower body temperature, they fell asleep about as quickly as other study participants without sleep issues.  This works because the cooling cap helped reduce brain metabolic activity, setting in motion a normal sleep cycle. 
  • Use the bedroom only for sleep and intimacy
    • Take computers, video games, and cell phones out of the bedroom and turn them off an hour or two before bedtime
    • Keep the bedroom dark especially avoid blue light.
      • In a study[14], 20 adult volunteers were randomized to wear either blue-blocking (amber) or yellow-tinted (blocking ultraviolet only) safety glasses for 3 h prior to sleep.   At the end of the study, the amber lens group experienced significant improvement in sleep quality relative to the control group. Mood also improved significantly relative to controls. 
  • Reduce night sweats by taking soy foods[5]
    • Some findings show that women who eat soy products report fewer hot flashes than women who do not eat soy do[10].
  • Give the sun a high 5 every morning for 15 minutes[5]
    • The melatonin signal forms part of the system that regulates the sleep-wake cycle by chemically causing drowsiness and lowering the body temperature.
    • Spending time in nature is enough to synch the circadian clocks of eight people participating in a study with the timing of sunrise and sunset[19].
    • In the morning awakening process, you should expose to sun light to reduce the production of melatonin.
      • It is principally blue light, around 460 to 480 nm, that suppresses melatonin.
  • Listen to music[11]
    • A study at Case Western Reserve University showed that listening to music with 60 to 80 beats per minute for 45 minutes before bedtime improved perceived sleep quality, lengthened sleep duration, shortened the time it took to fall asleep, and resulted in more time asleep.
  • Try scents[12]
    • Lavender in particular has been shown in some studies to help with sleep by increasing the percentage of deep sleep for both men and women.
      • Additionally, those who use lavender for sleep report having more vigor in the morning.
    • Stay away from peppermint and other minty scents in the evening.  
      • These have been shown to have an alerting effect rather than a sedating one.
In summary,  research shows that getting enough quality sleep at the right times is vital for your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

References

  1. Importance of Sleep : Six reasons not to scrimp on sleep
  2. Why Is Sleep Important?
  3. Sleep essential for healthy living
  4. 8 Cheap and Natural Insomnia Remedies
  5. The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan by Michael Breus, PhD.
  6. Knutson, K.L.  Impact of sleep and sleep loss on glucose homeostasis and appetite regulation.  Sleep Medicine Clinics 2007;2(2):187-97.
  7. Patel, S.R., F.B. Hu.  Short sleep duration and weight gain: A systematic review.  Obesity (Silver Spring) 2008; 3:643-53.
  8. Watanabe, M., H. Kikuchi, K. Tanaka, M. Takahashi.  Aoosication of short sleep duration with weight gain and obesity at 1-year follow-up: A large-scale prospective study.  Sleep 2010; 33:161-67.
  9. Spontaneous Happiness by Andrew Weil, MD
  10. Shanafelt, T., D. Barton, A. Adjei, C. Lprinzi.  Pathophysiology and treatment of hot flashes.  Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2002;77:1207-18.
  11. Lai, H.L., M. good. Music improves sleep quality in older adults.  Journal of Advanced Nursing 2004; 49(3):234-44.
  12. Blumenthal, M., A. Goldberg, J. Brinckmann.  Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs.  Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 2000, pp. 226-29.
  13. Can spicy food really give you nightmares?
  14. Burkhart K, Phelps JR. (26 December 2009). "Amber lenses to block blue light and improve sleep: a randomized trial."
  15. Too Little Sleep May Fuel Insulin Resistance (Dr. Mercola)
  16. Impaired Insulin Signaling in Human Adipocytes After Experimental Sleep Restriction: A Randomized, Crossover Study (Annals of Internal Medicine)
  17. Growing Number of People Get Too Much Sleep
  18. 自然睡醒头脑更清醒
  19. A week's worth of camping synchs internal clock to sunrise and sunset, study finds
  20. The Perfect Nap: Sleeping Is a Mix of Art and Science
  21. Diabetes and the Night Shift Factor
  22. Consistent Sleep, Wake Times Linked With Lower Body Fat Levels
  23. Goodnight. Sleep Clean
    • Scientists have found that, when the mouse brain is sleeping or under anesthesia, it’s busy cleaning out the waste that accumulated while it was awake.
    • On average, we’re getting one to two hours less sleep a night than we did 50 to 100 years ago and 38 minutes less on weeknights than we did as little as 10 years ago. 
    • When our sleep is disturbed, whatever the cause, our cleaning system breaks down. 
  24. How Mammals Tell Time
    • The body actually has many cellular clocks scattered throughout its tissues—in the liver, pancreas and elsewhere. Disruptions in any of the secondary clocks may increase an individual's risk of developing heart disease, diabetes or depression, among other conditions.
  25. What "natural" sleep is
  26. Reading from a tablet before bed may affect sleep quality
  27. The Characteristics of Sleep
  28. Iris (see the top video)

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