Why is sleep important?
The body needs to sleep. Standard is 8 hrs/night
It is estimated that not sleeping for 11 consecutive days will cause the body to shutdown and die.
True or False? Some people, due to fortunate genetics, need only 3-4 hours of sleep. False! This concept is not supported anywhere in the scientific literature.
The public is starting to clue into the importance of sleep. Even as short as 5 years ago, sleeping less was a badge of honor. CEOs and other world leaders would openly boast about how little sleep they would be getting.
Recently, however, this has changed. The most powerful and successful people in the world openly acknowledging the need for getting a good night’s sleep. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogertrapp/2018/03/04/more-sleep-not-less-is-the-secret-of-success/#7e6b0f4d18b2)
How does sleep help the body?
A 2013 paper published in the Journal Science found that sleep is how the brain helps to clean itself—much like defragging a computer. (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/342/6156/373)
- A 2017 paper proposed that the function of sleep is not only to save or conserve energy but also to allocate resources to different parts of the body. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29016625)
Lack of sleep and correlation with overall health
Cognition (attention, memory, learning)
A report published in 2007 showed that sleep deprivation has a negative affect on attention, learning, memory and all other aspects of cognitive function. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656292/)
- A 2018 paper published in the journal Metabolism showed that acute sleep deprivation detrimentally alters bone metabolism and overall bone health—which can increase the risk of osteoporosis. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29229227)
- A 2001 study found that a consistently later bedtime and shorter sleeping hours in children was associated with obesity. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11952652)
- A 2016 journal published in the journal Sleep Health found that depriving the body of sleep for 1-3 hours/night for 3 days severely reduced insulin sensitivity in a group of young adults and made them more intolerant to glucose. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5557027/)
- A 2016 paper found that total cost of insomnia exceeded $100 billion USD/year due to poorer workplace performance, increased health care utilization, and increased accident risk. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26874067)
- A 2018 BMC Cancer article found that shorter sleep duration increased the risk of colorectal cancer in Asians. (https://bmccancer.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12885-018-5025-y)
A 2015 study on 133,000 women in California found that shortened sleep duration was associated with an increased risk in estrogen-mediated cancers. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4466005/)
- A 2018 study showed, using positron emission tomography (PET), that acute sleep deprivation caused beta-amyloid protein buildup in regions of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. (https://www.pnas.org/content/115/17/4483)
- A study in 2007, along with many others, have reported an association with disrupted sleep and sleep deprivation with an increase of inflammation biomarkers in the body. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18240557)
The bottom line: sleep deprivation increases our risk for basically every problem related to human metabolic health.
How to sleep better?
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- See this website for the basic principles of CBT related to sleep: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/in-depth/insomnia-treatment/art-20046677
- A 2016 paper published in 2016 in JAMA Internal Medicine (great scientific research impact factor) showed that calorie restriction resulted in significantly better sleep—along with improved mood, sexual function, and quality of life in healthy non-obese adults. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27136347)
A 2017 study showed that eating a diet rich in zinc and astaxanthin for dinner help people fall asleep faster and slept better overall. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28019085)
- A 2016 study published in the journal Sleep Medicine showed that a group of Finnish men with chronic insomnia found significant improvements in all facets of sleep (falling asleep faster, sleep quality, sleep disturbance, and sleep duration) after participating in an aerobic exercise program for 6 months. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27823703)
Best natural products/supplements out there for sleep based on the scientific literature:
Magnolol—a major component of magnolia bark
A 2006 paper showed that Magnolol can support healthy inflammation in the brain via gene expression and cause better sleep. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16520748)
Magnolol, in general, has been shown in several publications—like one in 2007— to suppress genes in the body (like NF-KB genes) that cause inflammation. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17240450)
Tart Cherry Juice
A 2012 Paper published showing that consumption of concentrated tart cherry juice increased exogenous melatonin levels in the brain that is helpful in improving both sleep quality and duration in both men and women. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22038497)
Phlorotannins found in edible brown seaweed
A 2018 paper showed that taking 500 mg of a phlorotannin supplement 30-60 minutes before bedtime lowered wakefulness after sleep, improved sleep duration, and improved overall sleep maintenance in individuals compared to placebo. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29368365)