Even with spectacular improvements in healthcare during the past century, disease continues to persist. In many ways the causes behind this fact are linked to sleep. Sleep is one of the most important factors in good health and longevity. With Americans sleeping about two hours less on average than they did in 1900, one of the reasons for increased disease is apparent.
The study of sleep is a young science. The important modern beginning of the science of sleep began in the 1950s and the basic understanding that there are different stages or types of sleep was learned in the 1960s. During that period there were very few people involved in sleep research. Today there are thousands of sleep scientists and healthcare professionals focused on sleep research. There is much yet to learn about why we sleep, the mechanisms of sleep, our internal biological timekeepers, and the impact sleep has on our lives.
We have been making sleep products for over forty years. We have always been keenly interested in making our products perform the best and provide the best sleep possible. Our products have improved as our knowledge of sleep increases. Working with Nebraska Wesleyan University and pioneers in the field of sleep we founded a sleep research group, American Sleep Research Institute, that in 1988 built the world’s first stand-alone sleep research facility to study what healthy sleep is, good sleep bio-mechanics, and how to achieve it. The research that followed yielded some surprising and important conclusions. We have not only learned that quality sleep is very important to good health, but how long and how well we sleep can predict how long we might live.
The healthiest and longest lived people sleep about eight hours a night on average. A shorter life span is associated with less than seven and more than nine hours per night average sleep. Less than seven hours is apparently not enough to receive the full health benefits of sleep and sleeping more than nine or ten hours can indicate a sleep disorder that robs the benefit of quality sleep.
Among the reasons for shorter than average lifespans is that lack of sleep is linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and many other serious diseases. For example: studies have shown that night shift workers have higher cancer rates. Shift workers struggle with sleeping in synch with their internal bodyclock because the world around them is on a different schedule. Night shift workers also have higher traffic accident rates. So, it is not only disease that works into the statistics of shorter lifespan.
How are disease and sleep linked? One reason is that our immune systems recharge during sleep. Lack of sleep lowers our defenses against disease. The first half of a night’s sleep is the most important in physical healing and prevention of illness. The internal timekeepers that we all have orchestrate repair and rebuilding so that it occurs only during certain phases of sleep. If we do not sleep during those important phases the risk of disease increases.
Another reason for the link between sleep and longevity is the immediate effect lack of sleep has on human performance. Missing sleep leads to poor decision making and can affect everything we do: rushing when we should be methodical, forgetting important procedures, loss of attention (such as when driving), not having the energy to exercise, poorer reaction time, higher stress levels, elevated blood pressure, and inability to adapt to change. These things lead to accidents in the short term, and poor health in the long term. It is only necessary to look at our own or other people’s behavior after a single night of poor sleep. Irritable - Fatigued – Scattered - Sound familiar?
Poor sleep can also contribute to obesity. Even a few nights of short sleep reduces our ability to utilize insulin by forty percent. This creates increased stress on our hormone system. There is good news though, quality sleep is an easy and important part of a weight loss program. When sleep is missed, we become hungry for fats and sugars and the body increases fat storage. Poor sleep leads to caffeine and donuts. Good sleep at the right time of night regulates hormone production to increase muscle mass and reduce fat storage. It is easier to maintain a healthy diet if food cravings are in order and quality sleep will do that. Remember to include a sleep plan in any diet.
For athletes sleep is critical in repairing muscle and learning coordinated movement after training and exercise. For everyone, sleep is a critical part of the healing process after injury. Pain can interfere with sleep and delays this rebuilding and healing process.
So how do we achieve quality sleep? It is important to have good sleep habits. From our years of sleep research, the following principles have been shown to be the most important for healthy adults starting a program of sleep improvement.
iSleep Five Principles of Healthy Sleep
1. Wake up at the same time every day.
2. Make it a priority to sleep eight hours every night.
3. Have a quiet, dark, and peaceful sleep environment.
4. No caffeine or alcohol after dinner.
5. Sleep on a comfortable, posture correcting mattress.
Your Doctor can also advise you about techniques to improve your sleep. Even if you are sleeping the recommended eight hours per night already, you might not be achieving the full benefit of deep, restful, sleep. It is one of the challenges to a good night’s sleep that we are not aware of and cannot completely asses the true quality of our sleep because we are not conscious at the time. Is usually only after symptoms of poor sleep become so extreme that we seek help. This can be too late.
Best time for peak performance
|Sleep quality improvement in chiropractic patients: a pilot study.
American Sleep Research Institute, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA March 1, 2010
STUDY DESIGN: A cross-sectional descriptive study of self-reported quality of sleep in individuals. OBJECTIVES: To assess and describe subjective quality of sleep in subjects, with and without chiropractic treatments. SETTING: Private Practice. METHODS: A total of 80 Chiropractors, patients, and non-patients were sent and responded to a questionnaire containing queries about chiropractic care, pain intensities, pain timing, mood, and sleep quality and completed the Epworth Sleepiness Scale survey to assess quality of sleep. RESULTS: The 80 questionnaires that were returned were analyzed. Respondents were divided into two groups: (1) those who reported receiving chiropractic care, and (2) those who reported to not have had chiropractic care for at least six months. Group(1) Patients of chiropractors reported fewer sleep problems, better quality of sleep and had superior scores on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale compared with Group(2). CONCLUSIONS: Improved subjective sleep quality was associated with chiropractic care. It is possible that the benefit of chiropractic treatments serves as a modulator of sleep factors. SPONSORSHIP: This study was made possible by grants from iSleep.