At Angeles Health International we believe that if we look after ourselves we will be much better prepared to fight illness should we experience it. We advocate holistic therapies, exercise and a healthy diet to bring our patients to their optimal health levels, both on an physical and cellular level. But what about sleep?
We all know that sleep is important and that being tired is no fun. In fact, one survey showed that, given enough water, sleep is more important to our survival than food. While we sleep we are consolidating our memories, repairing muscle wear and tear, developing our brains, repairing organs and building neural pathways. So why is it that we struggle to get enough of it when it is a basic, natural requirement for all living beings? Is it the daily stress of life, long working hours, children or too much stimulation? Or is it that we seem to have just too little time?
According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Association, 40% of American adults suffer from insomnia every year, with 15% suffering from severe insomnia. Furthermore only 25% of people suffering from difficulty in sleeping consult a medical professional.
When we are babies we learn when to be asleep or awake; the difference between night and day. In this way we develop our circadian rhythm, a cycle of sleeping, waking and eating as determined by the position of the earth.
The Digital Age
A NSA survey in 2011 found that 95% of Americans interact with something electronic in the hour before going to bed. It is possible that in a digital age, where it is often never quite dark, our sleep rhythm is knocked slightly and we never quite wind down. This can disrupt sleep and, when we do eventually get sleep, make us sleep less well. Exposure to light and stimulus late at night can disrupt sleep by:
Preventing or delaying melatonin production.
Bringing the outside world and stresses into the bedroom, which
should be a place of sanctuary and relaxation.
Stimulating the mind when it should be winding down.
Sleep and Melatonin
In a healthy circadian rhythm, the pineal gland, at the back of the brain, starts to secrete a hormone called melatonin as it gets dark. Melatonin breaks down all of the energetic hormones needed throughout the day and calls oxygen away from the muscles and slows down the brain, making you feel tired so that you will fall asleep and allow your body to regenerate.
Then the melatonin really gets to work! While you are asleep the melatonin cleans all of your cells, removing free radicals and harmful toxins. It also slows down your whole system, so that your major organs can have a well-earned rest. Heart weight and blood pressure drop dramatically while you are asleep, allowing your body to recover from the day.
Sleep deprivation and cancer
An imbalance of melatonin can increase cancer risks in both males and females. This can be demonstrated by studies on shift workers, who work when they should be asleep. Although the bright lights of their work place stops them from producing melatonin so helps them to stay awake, the studies show that women shift workers were five times more likely to get breast cancer and men were 50% more likely to develop colorectal and bone cancer.
Sleep And Your Immune System
A further recent study shows that sleep deprivation has the same effect on white blood cells, hence the immune system, as being exposed to extreme stress. A group of young males had their blood tested every day for a week after having eight hours’ sleep and a reasonable amount of exposure to natural light to ensure that their circadian clock was well established. Then they were kept awake for 29 hours. The resulting changes in their white blood cell count were significant enough to affect the immune system.
Maybe next time you decide to have a late night, or get up extra early to finish off a piece of work, or do the housework, or even just next time you view sleep as the only “disposable’ element of your day, stop and think. You need sleep. Your body needs sleep. Sleep is one cutback you really can’t afford to make.
At AHI we provide a range of healthcare procedures, including Stem Cell Treatment and Alternative Cancer Treatment. If you would like to talk to a representative from Mexico’s largest network of hospitals then call toll free on 1.866.668.9263.