This post is a re-peat, but NPR reported this week on scientists studying the connection between lack of sleep and Alzheimer’s, so it seemed like an appropriate time to remind ourselves that sleep is not a luxury, but a mind-altering necessity.
I invite you to travel with me down the Healthy Body Yellow Brick Road. Ready, Dorothy? Let’s collect our traveling companions and get back to Kansas!
Hey Scarecrow! Did you know that sleep cleans your brain? When you sleep, your brain cells contract, leaving extra space between them. Spinocerebral fluid then flows around the cells, flushing away the proteins that build up there when you’re awake. Protein build up has been linked to alzheimers and dementia. When you get enough sleep (7-8 hours per night), your brain gets detoxed. I got so little sleep in college, I think I built protein palaces. http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/october2013/10282013clear.htm Another new study just announced that missed sleep results in an increase in certain chemicals in the brain – the same type of chemical increases that occur after a head injury. http://msnvideo.msn.com/?channelindex=10&from=en-us_msnhpvidmod#/video/7d94de3e-03fa-4090-aa8a-331b3c311c1e
“If I only had a heart” and if I only slept enough to keep it strong! Tin Man, a new study came out this past summer which links sleep and heart health. There are four factors that significantly affect one’s risk for cardiovascular disease: smoking, diet, exercise, and alcohol. New research has added a fifth: sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, it adversely affects your heart just as much as smoking does. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2353692/Lack-sleep-increases-risk-heart-disease-SMOKING.html
Lion, your courage to face the day and change your bad habits into good ones is also linked to sleep. Mood is affected by sleep. If you or someone you know has worked night shift, you don’t need science to tell you that lack of sleep makes a person more irritable, less patient, and well, not someone you want to be caged up with. Some studies have linked sleep deprivation with depression and other studies show that lack of sleep causes your amygdala (the part of the brain associated with negative emotions) to act up more and be less connected to the part of your brain that regulates emotion (and keeps the crazies in check). http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/between-you-and-me/201308/all-night-the-effects-sleep-loss-mood
Last, but not least, we can’t forget the Good Witch Leptin and the Wicked Witch Ghrelin. Well rested bodies produce lots of the hormone leptin which tells your body to stop eating. Sleep starved bodies produce more ghrelin hormones which tell your body to eat more. So in this metaphor, the Munchkins actually work for Wicked Witch Ghrelin. (Dunkin Donut holes, get it?) Come on, Lollipop Guild, you’re not helping us get to Kansas. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/lack-of-sleep-weight-gain
Join me in celebrating the New Year by resolving to get more sleep: rest for our brain, our heart, and our mood. On our Yellow Brick Road, the best thing Dorothy can do is lie down in the field of poppies and take a nap.
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