Not getting proper sleep is already known to be detrimental to one’s health and well-being. Previous research has shown implications for attention, the immune system, and daily productivity when sleep is compromised. Unfortunately, people tend to sacrifice sleep far too quickly when daily life becomes overburdened with things like work, family, and all kinds of other stressors. So when Americans need sleep the most is often when they forgo it.
Scientists at the University of Surrey have found some startling evidence to further stress the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. In a recent study, participants who slept fewer than 6 hours a night for a week showed genetic changes as well as increased risk for disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that the average adult get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, although one-third of Americans are getting less than 7 hours. Other side effects of less sleep are increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and depression.
The participants in this study had their blood drawn after both a week averaging less than 6 hours of sleep a night and then the next week sleeping up to 10 hours a night. Scientists observed changes in more than 700 genes, especially those involved in sleep, circadian rhythms, stress and metabolism. While the exact connection between these changes and a lack of sleep is not quite clear, but stress due to the lack of sleep may play a role. Further research points to comparing people with chronic stress to people who are sleep deprived.
Moving forward from these findings it is important to glean just how marked the negative effects of reduced sleep can be. Making time to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your body, and will help you get the most out of your waking hours. Don’t lose sleep over it, just give it a shot!
Read the entire article here: Sleep Loss Alters Genes, Raises Disease Risk
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