If You Sleep Less Than 6 Hours, You Must Read This…

February 26, 2014

I haven’t talked a great deal about sleep deprivation, so when I came across this article on Medscape, I thought the overview of the various epidemiologic findings related to sleeping less than 6 hours was worth reviewing:

“Sleep deprivation has a profound impact on multiple disease states. For example, if you sleep less than 6 hours, epidemiologic studies show the following:

• Stroke is increased by a factor of 4 times.

• Obesity is increased by an increase in ghrelin, which is a hunger hormone.

• Diabetes is increased because sleep deprivation increases insulin resistance.

• Memory loss is accelerated. Epidemiologic studies show that there is not only permanent cognitive loss but also evidence of early brain deterioration.

• Osteoporosis is increased, at least in an animal model, with changes in bone mineral density. Even changes in bone marrow are evident within 3 months of a study in a rat model.

• Cardiac disease is increased. There is a 48% increase in early cardiac death, as well as increased cardiac-related mortality.

• A 4-fold overall increase in mortality.

As it relates to gastrointestinal disease, there is an increased risk for colon cancer, and at least 1 epidemiologic study shows an association between sleep deprivation (or lack of sleep) and an increase in the likelihood of precancerous (adenomatous) polyps.”

The author also summarized the results of this finding that sleep deprived mice had higher rates of tumor growth.

More and more studies are linking sleep deprivation and obstructive sleep apnea with numerous medical conditions, including cancer.

If you sleep less than 6 hours, something else to sleep on…

How Lack of Sleep Can Lower Economic Productivity

February 3, 2014

I’m willing to bet that many of you reading this blog stayed up last night watching TV or surfing the net, going to bed much later than your normal bedtime. Some of you never sleep for more than 6 hours. Life can oftentimes prevent optimal sleep times, such as having a new baby, work obligations, or staying up to watch the Grammy or Academy awards. 

I’ve written in the past about the enormous medical consequences of poor sleep quality or quantity. But here’s another good reason to regularly get at least 7 hours of sleep: Our country’s gross domestic product. The New York Times printed a revealing article about the negative impact of sleep deprivation on our country’s economy. One telling statistic mentioned is that the number or people who sleep less than 6 hours rose 22% from 1975 to 2006.

If you listen to the topic of conversations during work or amongst friends, being tired or having problems with sleep are very common. Not getting the 7 to 8 hours of sleep is almost normal in this day and age. This is not including people who have medical sleep conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea. In one month in 2008, 29% of workers had fallen asleep or felt sleepy at work. One Australian study estimated the cost of sleepiness on the country’s gross domestic product at 0.8%. If you include medical complications of poor sleep, car accidents and industrial accidents, this figure is sure to be much higher.

This is why companies that values quality sleep can be much more productive and fosters more creativity (think Google’s sleep pods). 

What’s your reason for not getting enough sleep? Is it under your control, or do your personal or work situations prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep?

Less Sleep Linked To Alzheimer’s

October 30, 2013

Here’s one of many recent studies showing low lack of good quality sleep can cause memory problems, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease. In this Johns Hopkins study, researchers found that people who slept less of had trouble sleeping had higher levels of beta amyloid plaques in their brain. Having plaques alone doesn’t mean you’ll develop Alzheimer’s disease, but what this study showed was that sleep may play an important role in how your brain rids itself of beta amyloid plaques, which are one of the hallmarks of dementia.

Can Sleep Loss Make You Fat?

March 19, 2013

It’s long been known in sleep medicine that lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight. But it works the other way around as well: Being overweight gain aggravate obstructive sleep apnea, leading to lack of quality sleep. Here’s an article in the NY Times that summarizes a study showing that even mild degrees of sleep deprivation can cause metabolic changes that promotes weight gain. This article emphasizes sleep deprivation only, but knowing that a huge segment of the population has undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, it’s safe to say that lack of quality sleep can also promote weight gain.

Many of you (whether or not you have obstructive sleep apnea) don’t get enough hours of sleep in general. The ideal number of hours is 7 to 8, but everyone has different needs. This is assuming you’re able to breathe normally at night. It’s also been shown that short sleepers (less than 6) or long sleepers (longer than 9) have much higher risk of developing diabetes, depression, heart disease, and even death.

If you’re a short sleeper, I challenge you to sleep one hour longer for the next month. Just by making this one change alone, you’re more likely to lose some weight.

Sleep Deprivation Can Affect Your Gene Expression

March 1, 2013

Conventional thinking states that your genes don’t change, but here’s a revealing study that shows how sleep can significantly affect levels of gene expression. In this study, even mild levels of sleep deprivation or circadian rhythm disruption were found to increase or decrease expression of up to 711 genes, based on a technique called transcriptome analysis.

Biological areas affected included the following: gene-expression regulation, chromatin modification, macromolecular metabolism, and inflammatory, immune and stress responses.

What this means is that poor sleep, whether it’s due to insufficient sleep, insomnia, or sleep apnea, can have a negative effect on your hormones, metabolism, immune system, and your stress response.

The Importance of Deep Sleep During Puberty

September 27, 2012

Here’s a small study which showed how important deep sleep is to the onset of puberty in teens. They found that teens had multiple surges of lutenizing hormone, mostly during the deep stage of sleep (non-REM, N3). 

Lack of deep sleep from either sleep deprivation or sleep apnea can definitely affect your child’s ability to develop and mature at normal rates. It’s also important to note that growth hormone is also produced during deep sleep.

Does your teen have sleep problems?

My Quote in More Magazine About Alcohol and Sleep

April 7, 2012

Look for my quote in More Magazine about the effects of alcohol on sleep (under #3).

Today Is World Sleep Day

March 16, 2012

In celebration of World Sleep Day, let’s give others the gift of sleep. If you have a loved one, a friend, or even a colleague that snores heavily or has problems sleeping, refer that person to a sleep medicine doctor. Most common sleep conditions are easily treatable. Here’s a press release by the World Sleep Federation describing their mission.

Sleep: The Missing Link in Weight Loss

January 1, 2012

Tara Parker-Pope, New York Times health columnist, wrote a great article in last week’s Times Magazine called, “The Fat Trap.” She details a poignant account of her personal struggles with obesity, and the various scientific studies that support the notion that there are a number of genetic, biochemical and environmental factors that prevent certain people from losing weight. 

But one thing that was clearly missing in her article was the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. There are a number of reasons why most modern Americans are not getting enough sleep.

A National Sleep Foundation poll in 2005 showed that Americans averaged 6.9 hours of sleep per night, which is about one hour less per night compared with 50 years ago. Furthermore, our sleep duration has dropped another 20 minutes since 2001. Invasion of technology has been blamed as one major factor, as cellphones, computers, and various media options are rampant in today’s society. The bad economy is also thought to create more insomnia and diminished total sleep times.

Not only has our sleep duration dropped, but the quality of our sleep is dropping even further. Obesity is a major risk factor for having obstructive sleep apnea. As obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, it’s likely that rates of obstructive sleep apnea has increased as well. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea, by causing multiple breathing interruptions, prevents continuous, quality deep sleep. It also significantly increases your future risk of developing heart disease, heart attack, stroke and motor vehicle accidents.

A healthy diet, portion control, and regular exercise are cornerstones of most diets or weight loss programs. But without good quality sleep, your chances of losing a significant amount of weight and keeping is off is relatively low. One major reason for this is that poor sleep promotes weight gain. It’s been shown that hormonally and metabolically, one tends to either gain weight, or has difficulty losing weight, no matter how much you diet or exercise.

One great example was reported by Glamour Magazine in 2009: Seven women of varying weights were told to sleep at least 7.5 hours every night. After 10 weeks, 6 of the 7 women lost anywhere from 6 to 15 pounds, without any changes in their eating or exercise habits. The one woman that didn’t lose any weight did lose 2.5 inches off her waist, bust and hips.

This just goes to show that unless you can optimize sleep, losing weight through dieting and/or exercise won’t work as well, or last.

If you’re currently dieting, have you incorporated an optimal sleep program into your weight loss regimen?

Taking The Sleep Medicine Board Examination On 2 Hours Sleep

October 28, 2011

After months of studying, I finally took my sleep medicine board examination yesterday. I felt well-prepared for this 4-part, 8 hour test. But one thing that always seems to happen to me before every major exam is that I suffer from severe insomnia. The same thing happened to me before my SAT, MCAT, and otolaryngology board exams.

The night before this test, I went to bed at my normal 10:30 PM time, but was unable to fall asleep unto about 4AM! What made it worse was that my mind was filled with thoughts of studies showing memory loss and poor recall  in sleep-deprived individuals. Imagine a sleep doctor having major sleep problems before a major sleep test. This temporary, stress-induced insomnia is called adjustment (or acute) insomnia as defined by the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (Second Edition). Fortunately, it goes away once the stressor resolves.

I got a refreshing 8 hours of sleep last night, and now with the test over, I can get back to a normal life again. 

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The material on this website is for educational and informational purposes only and is not and should not be relied upon or construed as medical, surgical, psychological, or nutritional advice. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your medical regimen, exercise or diet program.



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