There’s a good reason why every military group in the world employs the same form of torture at one time or another: it quickly causes people to lose the ability to act and think clearly.
This tactic is simple and easy to inflict. The most dangerous people in the world use it to gain control of the enemy. And it could be happening to you each and every night. Think you’re safe each night when you lock the windows and bolt the doors? Think again.
That’s because you could be a target for torture and you don’t even know it. And want to know what’s really scary? You’re inflicting it on yourself! Wanna know the name of that torture? Sleep deprivation. It may sound like a joke but it’s not. The consequences of sleep deprivation are far worse than just ‘being a little off your game’. Sleep deprivation is more dangerous than smoking, high blood pressure, or heart disease. It can result in wild mood swings and rapid weight gain. It can even lead to heart problems and violent death! I’m going to spill the beans on all the gory details and tell you how to stay safe.
If you’re sleeping less than six-and-a-half to seven hours a night, you’re putting yourself in danger. And I don’t mean the simple side effects of being a little slow to respond. The risks of constant sleep deficit are far more serious. And you may not even realize they are happening.
I’ll look at each of these in more detail, but understand this up front: sleep deficit results in elevated blood sugar… weight gain… higher risk of accidents… mood disorders… lowered immunity… and a host of illnesses.
And for the elderly, not sleeping well is one of the leading predictors of ending up in a nursing care institution.
Devastating health consequences…
Everyone occasionally has a night of tossing and turning. And while you might make it through the next day just fine, you’ll probably be irritable and clumsy. Or the opposite can happen: you might get a buzz from a night of staying up.
One sleepless night can increase dopamine – a pleasure chemical in the brain – to produce mild euphoria. It’s the brain’s way of making up for the lack of sleep so you can keep going. However, it doesn’t improve your impaired thinking ability and might even make it worse.
So you don’t get off scott-free even after just one night of missed sleep. In fact, staying awake for more than 17-19 hours has the same effect on reaction time as a blood alcohol level of 0.5.percent That’s pushing the legal limit for being behind the wheel of a car.
Miss two nights in a row and you will have definite concentration problems. You will begin making mistakes on what are usually normal tasks.
After three consecutive nights, you lose your grasp of reality and begin to hallucinate.
While you may never intentionally miss that much sleep, it does explain why sleep deprivation is such an effective method of torture. And the thing is, continuous reduced sleep times – even as little as one to one-and-a-half hours a night – adds up to the serious problems I’ve already mentioned.
But besides health problems, everyone is at risk of accident or injury caused by other people’s sleep deficits. A conservative estimate of U.S. highway accidents due to "drowsy driving" is startling…. 100,000 crashes… 71,000 injuries… and 1,550 fatalities in an average year.
Drowsy driving accidents are usually more serious than other wrecks for 3 reasons:
1.They often happen on high-speed highways where people are trying to maintain speed for long distances.
2.There is little attempt to avoid the accident because the driver’s eyes are closed and doesn’t see it coming.
3.The driver is usually alone and has no one to alert the danger or trade off with the driving.
You may recall a couple of infamous accidents that were partly due to sleep deprivation: the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant.
Those are big consequences for many people from just from one person’s lack of sleep. Think of how that holds true when you consider long-haul truck drivers, night shift doctors and nurses and airline pilots who cross a lot of time zones.
You are often in contact with people who exert a large amount of control over your life and health. You can only hope they are operating on enough sleep!
Growing up sleep-deprived…
Lack of sleep is not just a problem for adults. It’s a very important factor in the lives of children and teens. Remember as a kid when you often didn’t want to go to bed? Lots of kids resist bedtime to the point that when they finally fall asleep, they don’t want to get up the next morning when they need to.
Teachers say that 10 percent of grade schoolers have trouble staying awake in class. Kids this age need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night. That can be hard to get when a child is in a lot of activities. And even harder when you factor in computer time, games and television.
But sleep time shows up on the report card. Kids who get Cs, Ds and Fs tend to sleep almost an hour less per night than the A students.
To make matters worse, sleep deprivation makes kids fat. Just one hour less of total sleep per night doubles a child’s chances of being overweight. And if they miss an hour of deep REM sleep each night, their odds of gaining weight are tripled. (By the way, the same holds true of adults…)
Then come the teen years. Teenagers are notorious for staying up late and being hard to wake up. And there’s a real good reason for that. There is an actual physical cause.
Hitting puberty re-sets the body’s internal clock. Instead of getting sleepy around 8 or 9 p.m., adolescents don’t start producing sleep hormones until 11 p.m. or later. That gets further disrupted if the teen consistently stays up to study or socialize.
Most teens need at least nine hours of sleep but don’t get it. Homework, social activities, part-time jobs and early-morning classes really eat into the sleep budget. And it escalates from there: twenty-five percent of all college students are chronically sleep deprived.
Dozing off in class and suffering a drop in grades is one thing, but the consequences can be much more tragic. We already touched on "drowsy driving" accidents. Well, the reality is this: 55 percent of the fatalities in those accidents occur under the age of 25.
No one wants to see this needless loss of life and health happen when the simple solution is to get enough sleep. What else could you do for your health that is more pleasurable and absolutely free?
Let’s look at ways to make sleep a priority in your life…
Recognizing Sleep Deficit…
First of all, you must recognize when you are sleep-deprived and not blame it on something else. Whenever a baby or a toddler gets cranky and hard to deal with, we all agree they need some sleep. The same might be true of you.
You may tend to think it’s stress – or work – or the kids. You might be accustomed to feeling tired if you regularly don’t get enough sleep. But one of the things about sleep-deprivation is that the sufferer doesn’t seem to recognize it!
So what are some signs you might not be getting enough sleep?
- Nodding off easily during the day. Wanting to go to sleep anytime you are sitting still – in a meeting… or at your desk… or while reading… or in stalled traffic – means you are not well-rested.
- Relying on an alarm clock to wake up. People who sleep well usually wake up before the alarm goes off.
- Crankiness, impaired memory, decreased alertness or performance. Missing just one-and-a-half hours sleep for one night can decrease your daytime alertness by 32 percent.
- Falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow. Most people take 10 – 15 minutes to nod off. If you’re out in less than five minutes, you aren’t getting enough sleep.
Those are all early warning signs you should not ignore. Sleep-deprivation only gets worse; then it leads to a poor quality of life and serious medical illnesses. Let’s take a look at some things you can do to cure your sleep debt and build a good foundation for health.
Keys to Good Sleep…
Good sleep, especially as you get older, is not simply a matter of chance. There are a number of things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep. You already know about limiting caffeine and alcohol late in the day. Here are a few more tips you can try…
- Have a "sleep routine" and a regular bedtime – this is a basic concept you might not have completely thought through. And if you think bedtimes are just for kids, think again.
Consider this: your brain goes through the cycle of sleep (stages 1-4 plus REM) every ninety minutes. This pattern repeats itself about 5 times per night, which takes at least seven-and-a-half hours. That’s what you need to feel well-rested. So count back eight to eight-and-half hours before you need to get up. That’s when you should be getting ready for bed.
A hot bath during this time is ideal. If that doesn’t work for you, try a cup of decaffeinated tea or wind down with a good book. Even TV is ok is you know when to turn it off.
- DVR those late-night shows you love – there’s no need to trade quality sleep for TV entertainment. Pick your favorite shows and tape them to watch at a more convenient time. Bo
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Ian Robinson is a member of the Natural Health Dossier independent research team. The Natural Health Dossier newsletter scours the world for the most crucial, cutting-edge discoveries made by the best doctors and researchers in natural and alternative medicine.
Natural Health Dossier was originally developed from a series of private research briefs prepared for a reclusive millionaire. The newsletter continues to challenge established beliefs and evaluates new ideas in order to dispel mainstream myths about diet, exercise, nutrition, health and healing, aging, pain relief, and more.
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