Wednesday, January 2

The scariest warning out there to get enough sleep

For readers who have tried to get more sleep and can't, I have found some recommendations, which I'll put in another post, but I venture the biggest obstacle is simply not fully realizing how important it is to get about 8 hours sleep a night. The sleep expert quoted in the following transcript takes care of that problem. He just goes down the list, bing, bing, bing. Scared the tar out of me -- and I've read a lot of other reports on the topic over the years, to which I always replied, 'Yes yes I know it's important' then continued with my crummy sleep schedule. No more. I have finally gotten the message.    
A sleep expert explains what happens to your body and brain if you don't get enough sleep
By Noah Friedman
November 1, 2018
Business Insider

Following is a transcript of the video. [emphasis throughout is mine]

Matthew Walker: My name is Matthew Walker, I am a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and I am the author of the book "Why We Sleep."

We certainly know that a lack of sleep will actually prevent your brain from being able to initially make new memories, so it's almost as though without sleep the memory inbox of the brain shuts down and you can't commit new experiences to memory. So those new incoming informational emails are just bounced, and you end up feeling as though you're amnesiac. You can't essentially make and create those new memories.

We also know that a lack of sleep will lead to an increased development of a toxic protein in the brain that is called beta-amyloid and that is associated with Alzheimer's disease because it is during deep sleep at night when a sewage system within the brain actually kicks in to high gear and it starts to wash away this toxic protein, beta-amyloid.

So if you're not getting enough sleep each and every night, more of that Alzheimer's-related protein will build up. The more protein that builds up, the greater your risk of going on to develop dementia in later life.

What are the effects of sleep deprivation on the body? Well, there are many different effects. Firstly, we know that sleep deprivation affects the reproductive system. We know that men who are sleeping just five to six hours a night have a level of testosterone which is that of someone ten years their senior. So a lack of sleep will age you by almost a decade in terms of that aspect of virility and wellness.

We also know that a lack of sleep impacts your immune system. So after just one night of four to five hours of sleep, there is a 70% reduction in critical anticancer-fighting immune cells called natural killer cells. And that's the reason that we know that short sleep duration predicts your risk for developing numerous forms of cancer. And that list currently includes cancer of the bowel, cancer of the prostate, as well as cancer of the breast.

In fact, the link between a lack of sleep and cancer is now so strong that recently the World Health Organization decided to classify any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen. So in other words, jobs that may induce cancer because of a disruption of your sleep rate rhythms.

We also know that a lack of sleep impacts your cardiovascular system because it is during deep sleep at night that you receive this most wonderful form of effectively blood pressure medication. Your heart rate drops, your blood pressure goes down.

If you're not getting sufficient sleep, you're not getting that reboot of the cardiovascular system, so your blood pressure rises. You have, if you're getting six hours of sleep or less, a 200% increased risk of having a fatal heart attack or stroke in your lifetime.

There is a global experiment that is performed on 1.6 billion people twice a year and it's called daylight savings time. And we know that in the Spring, when we lose one hour of sleep, we see a subsequent 24% increase in heart attacks the following day.

Another question, perhaps, is what is the recycle rate of a human being? How long can we actually last without sleep before we start to see declines in your brain function or even impairments within your body? And the answer seems to be about 16 hours of wakefulness.

Once you get past 16 hours of being awake, that's when we start to see mental deterioration and physiological deterioration in the body

We know that after you've been awake for 19 or 20 hours, your mental capacity is so impaired that you would be as deficient as someone who was legally drunk behind the wheel of a car. 

So if you were to ask me what is the recycle rate of a human being, it does seem to be about 16 hours and we need about eight hours of sleep to repair the damage of wakefulness.

Wakefulness essentially is low-level brain damage.


EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published on December 26, 2017. Lamar Salter contributed reporting on a previous version of this article.


If you don't decide to get enough sleep after reading all that, you might be misapplying the famous "Cry Wolf!" aspect of scientific findings. Yeah scientists change their minds a lot but in this case, the jury's in -- and it's been in for decades; it's just that science keeps finding additional reasons that humans need enough sleep. 

For example, here's a recent finding from scientists at the Salk Institute; summary published Nov. 27 at Science Daily"Why screen time can disrupt sleep: Scientists uncover how certain retinal cells respond to artificial illumination." 

Can the problem be offset by blue-light screen filters? I don't think the problem is limited to computer light, at least not from my reading of the study summary; it seems to be artificial light -- at night. 

The bottom line for humans is that we are creatures of light and darkness. So I think the more ways we can find to adhere to the Circadian Cycle without completely sacrificing our modern way of life, the better for our health over the long-term -- meaning just when we most need good physical health and sharp minds: as we enter middle age. Or when we realize we can't afford to retire from work. Or if our health deteriorates to the point where we end up in a nursing home, where too often strangers who don't give a damn whether we live or die are tasked with looking after us.   

As to what we're going to do about Daylight Savings Time,  outlaw it -- 'yesterday.' 

What about jet travel across time zones? Well, living is a calculated risk; it all depends on what kind of risks you consider necessary and how often you want to take them. At the least, follow all the tactics advised for readjusting your sleep cycle after a time-zone change.  



ATM said...

Getting enough sleep is critical, but it should be pointed out that it is not simply a question of getting a specified number of hours, it must be the right kind of sleep.

Fore example:
Experiencing sufficient REM sleep is essential for normal functioning, both sleeping and waking. The symptoms of insufficient REM sleep include mental problems, including impaired memory, hallucinations, mood swings, and inability to concentrate. Physical problems observed include lowered core body temperatures, impaired immune systems, and in extreme cases, death.

I suspect that the number of images that one views during screen time may interfere with norming memory formation. I recommend turning images off.

Pundita said...

ATM, Your first observation is very important and I find the second one interesting. By "images" I assume you mean ad images on internet sites. And by shutting them off I assume you mean using an ad blocker; if my guess is wrong, or if additional imagine blocking can be done, please let me know. Without knowing about the research in this area, I'd say that at the least the distraction from images while one is trying to read interferes with concentration, which could translate to poor memory. In any case I think I'll include your comments in my next post about sleep issues.

ATM said...

Q: 1.I assume you mean ad images on internet sites.....2.And by shutting them off I assume you mean using an ad blocker; if my guess is wrong, or if additional imagine blocking can be done, please let me know.

A: 1.Yes, what I think is happening is that ads force us to multitask while reading and multitasking is known to lower IQ. Quote: IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child. I suspect that some categories of screen time involve frequent multitasking and the way that it lowers IQ is by damaging short term memory. It would be nice if a study made an attempt to isolate causation, instead modern scientist seem to vaguely wave their hands as if any screen was a work of witch craft stealing the sole. If information is not kept long enough in short term memory it will not make it into long term memory where connections between memories are made.

2.Yes in theory, however ad blockers do not work very well because they are detected and many sites force you to shut them off. If you are on linux you can use a Text Browser like Lynx. If you are on Windows you might use Browsh with Firefox, which gives your a browser 1997 feel except with better fonts. Browsh is not detected as an ad blocker because it is a post processing Firefox input. A simple solution is to turn off javascript. Except that may remove more information from a site than you want and is also detected.

It was once quite easy to navigate the internet with a pure text browser, but the internet lords are making it very hard for the blind these days. Text readers or brail readers for the blind only work well when you can extract ham from the spam on a site.

Pundita said...

ATM, Thank you for all your advice, which I've included in my post today on sleep: