Friday, November 19, 2010

Dangers of Insomnia and the Health Benefits of Sleep

I wanted to post this article, as it bears repeating. Insomnia and the dangers of sleep deprivation have finally been getting more attention from the medical community and the media. All for good reason. We live in such a fast paced, busy, profit motivated society- usually at the cost and peril of our health. Sleep is essential for healthy development, mental health, metabolism, hormone production, immune function, just to name a few.

Below is an article I received from HSI Health Newsletter which supports and provides further scientific evidence that sleep is essential to our well-being and functioning, and lack thereof, can be very dangerous and detrimental to our health.
A US study at Emory University School of Medicine found that acute sleep deprivation can lead to an increased production of inflammatory hormones including fibrinogen, IL-6 and C- reactive protein which changes blood vessel functioning.

According to the researchers, inflammation may be one way poor sleep quality increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

How much is enough?

Keeping the latest research in mind, it is even more concerning when further research shows that one in ten people suffer from insomnia every night. This is according to Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, Medical Director of the London Sleep Centre, who says that insomnia is caused either by stress, anxiety, being overweight or use of alcohol and that it can lead to depression, anxiety and a compromised immune system.

Not getting your forty winks has also been linked to high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and psychological stress – all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Without stating the obvious, it is clear that poor sleeping habits can easily push you into a downward spiral that can have a knock-on effect in all areas of your health.

So how much sleep is enough?

The need for sleep can vary quite a lot between individuals, although it is usual to require less sleep as you get older. As a general rule, most adults need around seven hours of sleep each night.

In fact, new research carried out by scientists at the University of California showed that those getting 8 hours sleep or more each night were 12 per cent more likely to die within the six-year study period, than those sleeping seven hours.

Lead researcher, Dr Daniel Kripke said: “Individuals who now average 6.5 hours of sleep a night can be reassured this is a safe amount of sleep”.

Its sleep quality rather than quantity that’s the key.

A 2005 survey of 25,580 individuals found that around 16 per cent of Britons suffer from ‘non-restorative sleep’ (NRS). With NRS, sufferers sleep through the night, but wake up feeling as bad as before going to bed. At the time of the survey, the UK was at the top of the NRS list compared with six other European countries (with Spain at the bottom), with just 2.4 per cent of the population having NRS – and that was before the recession!

More than just a sleeping disorder

According to Dr. Clifford G. Risk, from the Marlborough Center for Sleep Disorders, in the US, people with a sleep disorder may suffer from multiple underlying conditions, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, which are reflected during sleep and disrupt the sleep process.

Dr. Risk and his colleagues assessed 50 patients with NRS, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue and found that 33 patients suffered from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Researchers also identified 15 patients with possible or probable attention deficit disorder (ADD). Further testing showed that patients also suffered from primary ADD, severe memory impairment, depression, and mild dyslexia.

The study results also showed a high degree of attention deficit in non-OSA patients with insomnia or a lack of deep, restorative sleep. Test results indicated that 28 patients suffered from neuromuscular disorders and mood and anxiety disorders. Ten patients suffered from primary neuromuscular disorders, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or multiple sclerosis; 14 patients suffered from a primary psychological disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety; and four of the patients were affected by only depression or fatigue.

Cherry-picking your options

The quick solution for insomniacs is to get a prescription for sleeping pills. But these often present a new set of problems like ‘drug fog’ or psychomotor impairment and are often addictive.

Luckily, nature provides healthy and effective alternatives with no side effects.

Tart cherries are one of the few food sources of melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain and released in the body by the pineal gland. Melatonin is nature’s sleep-regulating hormone and is closely connected with the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle.

Melatonin levels are usually maintained naturally, stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light. Levels are lower during the day and gradually increase as night falls to help induce sleep. Low levels of melatonin can lead to difficulty in initiating sleep, maintaining sleep and waking too soon from sleep — all cases of insomnia.

US studies conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Centre found Montmorency tart cherries contained 13.5 nanograms (ng) of melatonin per gram, much higher than the amount normally found in our bodies.

Insomnia sufferers can help guarantee a good night’s sleep with Cherrygood, the UK’s only ready to drink cherry juice, made from Montmorency cherries. It’s available in two great tasting flavours; Original Cherry and Cherry & Berry from most major supermarkets and offers an easy and delicious way to boost melatonin levels.

As an added bonus, research earlier this year revealed that drinking cherry juice can significantly reduce known markers of inflammation... helping you repair the heart damage poor sleeping patterns may have caused. On top of that, cherry juice also helps lower levels of triglycerides (blood fats) and LDL (bad) cholesterol — both known risk factors for heart disease. These add to the growing list of cherry juice’s other health benefits like fighting cancer, acting as a powerful antioxidant and providing neuro-protective and immune-modulating effects.

Do you suffer from insomnia? How does lack of sleep affect you? What are some ways that you manage insomnia?

1 comment:

  1. Great article, I downloaded a book from Scribd that goes into great detail about tart cherries and sleep. Here is a link to download: