In today’s episode of “Work Proof your Brain and Body”, personal trainer Aaron Morton takes a look at the importance of sleep: how sleep quality affects health, and how to improve sleeping habits.
Table of Contents
- How sleep affects your health and work (00:28)
- Let’s start with how sleep works (02:21)
- In this modern, globally connected world, curveballs are thrown all the time (4:44)
- While your sleep cycle goes through four stages (6:25)
- Common sleep onset problems (8:16)
- Disrupted sleep can hinder many areas of your life (10:40)
- There are two ways poor sleep can affect weight gain (11:16)
- What if poor sleep quality becomes prolonged? (16:19)
- The effects that sleep has on the aging process (18:15)
- Conclusion (21:22)
How sleep affects your health and work (00:28)
- Many people will sacrifice an hour a night to achieve a deadlines
- Aaron speaks of an experiment a student performed in 1965.
- He mentions a study on rats which were constantly kept awake.
- A teenager died of a stroke after a marathon computer game session that lasted several days.
Let’s start with how sleep works (02:21)
- Before the days of alarm clocks, we arranged our days around sunrise and sunset.
- We all have an internal biological clock, known as the circadian rhythm, which responds to light and darkness.
- As sunrise and daylight beckons, we are at our most alert.
- Equally, sunset compels us to fall asleep.
- There are many factors that allow your body to release melatonin, the sleep hormone, but light is the biggest influence.
- When everything falls inline, the circadian rhythm responds as it should.
In this modern, globally connected world, curveballs are thrown all the time (4:44)
- The biggest culprit is light stimulation, particularly blue light stimulation.
- In a survey called “Sleep in America”, they found:
- 95% use some type of electrical device within an hour of going to bed.
- 61% use a computer or laptop within an hour of that time.
- In another survey within the UK, they found that 78% of those questioned were exposed to blue light before going to bed.
- A recent survey found that out of nearly 3000 eleven to eighteen year olds, 48% admitted to checking their phones after they’ve gone to bed. Amazingly 1 in 10 said they check their phones up to 10 times a night.
- In another study, individuals who read electronic books took around 10 minutes longer to fall asleep compared to the printed book readers. Additionally e-book readers also experienced less REM sleep during the night.
- Messing with your circadian rhythm can promote problems to your wider health.
While your sleep cycle goes through four stages (6:25)
- The first stage is drowsiness
- This stage is where the electrical activity in your brain lessens
- Stage two is light sleep
- The brain’s electrical activity lessens further
- Stage three is deep sleep
- Brain waves noticeably slow down
- Usually occurs 30 minutes into the sleep cycle
- The fourth and final stage is called REM (rapid eye movement)
- Heightened brain activity
- Suppressed motor function (to prevent acting out of dreams)
- Dreams occur in this stage
- Usually occurs 60 minutes into the sleep cycle
- The entire cycle generally lasts 90 minutes, and repeats four or five times a night.
Common sleep onset problems (8:16)
- Sleep onset latency (“how long it takes to fall asleep”)
- Sleep onset insomnia
- Trouble falling asleep at least three times a week for more than three times a month
- Common factors and causes for sleep onset problems are:
- Excess stimulation, such as TV or using technology, before bed.
- Room temperature (especially extremely high temperatures)
Disrupted sleep can hinder many areas of your life (10:40)
- Three areas particularly pertinent:
- Cognitive ability
There are two ways poor sleep can affect weight gain (11:16)
- Hormonal responses
- Numerous studies have shown that poor sleep can increase your hunger response.
- Poor sleep causes your body to mix up your appetite hormones, leptin (suppresses appetite) and ghrelin (increases appetite)
- Decision making
- Poor sleep can affect how we perceive risk and reward, often leading to more unnecessary risk taking.
What if poor sleep quality becomes prolonged? (16:19)
- More likely to engage in health risk behaviours, such as smoking, physical inactivity, and increased alcohol consumption.
- A similar case was found for individuals sleeping more than 9 hours, suggesting there is an optimal period between 6 and 9 hours.
- Negatively affects short term memory, response time and accuracy, the ability to divide attention and auditory attention.
The effects that sleep has on the aging process (18:15)
- In addition to chronological age, the body also has a biological age
- The measure of how your physiological systems are aging.
- In some aspects, this age is more important to be aware of, as it reflects your health.
- Sleep has a big influence on aging, both in terms of impairments and the likelihood of metabolic diseases.
- Evidence show that poor sleep quality accelerates rate of aging:
- Aaron mentions a few studies that support this evidence.
- Just like a pension is a way of saving throughout your life to ensure you have financial stability in later years, your lifestyle provides the same stability for your health.
- Aron mentions a few studies that support how poor sleep over a long period can cause various health issues.