Global Health Epidemic: Sleep Deprivation

What if I told you scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious.


And it’s legal.


Are you interested?


Hey guys! I don’t come from the sales department of a pharmaceutical company, but rather a pool of sleep ambassadors.


Few weeks back I completed a Masterclass by Matthew Walker, a world renowned sleep scientist, on the Science of Better Sleep. I got so interested I borrowed his bestseller “Why we sleep '' and in this article, I'd like to share my favourite insights.




Did you know: Human beings are the only species that deprive themselves of sleep?


Numerous misconceptions exist about the useless of sleep exist in the workplace but it's very important for both our brains and our bodies.


Ever year, the world conducts a sleep deprivation experiment otherwise known as Daylight Savings Time. The day after the adjust, hospitals see a frightening rise in heart attacks.

Sleep affects cardiovascular, immune, reproductive and genetic health. With 7-9 hours of sleep, you're less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many more diseases. WHO identified night shifts as a possible carcinogen and in 2009 Denmark was the first country to pay worker compensation to women who had developed breast cancer after years of night shift work.


Women who don't sleep enough are more likely to suffer miscarriages. Sleep deprivation also reduces testosterone, sperm count, muscle mass and bone density.


If this isn't convincing enough, researchers were curious about the impacts of sleep deprivation on physical attractiveness. Is beauty sleep really a thing? They showed participants photos of sleep-deprived individuals and those who got 8 hours of sleep and asked them to rate the photos in terms of attractiveness. Results showed sleep deprived people appear less attractive - with facial cues such as dark circles and swollen eyelids playing a role in the outcome.

More information about the study: https://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c6614

Sleep affects your brain, and deprivation reduces mental capacity. An experiment with students found an all-nighter reduces your ability to cram facts by 40%. Sleep also affects creativity and problem solving skills. When you're stuck a problem, you must have heard the phrase "Sleep On It". This had something to do with dreams and the how the part of your brain responsible for rational thought goes to sleep when you're having a dream. But other parts of the brain, such as the autobiographical and emotional centres are still working. This is why we see characters from our daily lives when we have a dream, but they're not always acting rationally.


This encourages you to think outside the box and explains why some of history's greatest scientific ideas came in dreams. Dmitri Mendeleev who long struggled with how to group chemical elements said the idea of the periodic table came to him in a dream on Feb 17th, 1869.


"I saw in a dream where all the elements into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper. Only in one place did a correction later seem necessary" - Mendeleev


100 years ago, less than 2% of the population slept less than 6h. Now its more than 30% - to a point where WHO declared sleep loss a global health epidemic.


Scientists didn’t discover a revolutionary treatment. You discovered the power of sleep


Good night and sleep tight.


Check out our video about sleep:



References:

Walker, M. (2017). Why we sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. Simon and Schuster.

Axelsson, J., Sundelin, T., Ingre, M., Van Someren, E. J., Olsson, A., & Lekander, M. (2010). Beauty sleep: experimental study on the perceived health and attractiveness of sleep deprived people. Bmj, 341.

Brueck, Hilary. “Daylight-saving time is literally killing us.” Business Insider Nederland, Business Insider, 7 Mar. 2019 https://www.businessinsider.com/daylight-saving-time-is-deadly-2018-3?utm_source=copy-link&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=topbar

Lyon, L. (2019). Is an epidemic of sleeplessness increasing the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease?. Brain, 142(6), e30-e30.

Tutton, M. (n.d.). Payout for women who got breast cancer after night shifts. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from http://edition.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/16/cancer.nightwork/index.html


Photo Credits:

UNESCO

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