As we all know, we become distracted and irritable when we haven’t had enough sleep; then our skin begins to look worse and lose its healthy glow, we need carbohydrates and start overeating.
Lack of Sleep Consequences
These are but external symptoms, according to medical research, actually lack of sleep hits us much worse than that. It turns out that a week of insufficient sleep leads to dysfunction of hundreds of genes, aggravating our general condition and making us less immune to fatal illnesses that develop due to immunity, stress and inflammations.
Scientists say that the way lack of sleep affects genes explains the insidious impact on our health.
Lack of Sleep Interferes with More Than 700 Genes
The recent study carried out at the University of Surrey looked into reactions of genes to disrupted sleep in 26 volunteers, and it emerged that over 700 genes’ activity has been interfered with in various ways. Researchers say that some genes grow slacker whereas others, on the contrary, display boosted activity.
Many of these genes are engaged in body functions like metabolism, immunity, the ‘body clock’ cycle, and stress responses.
Lack of Sleep Linked to Health Problems
The study, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, claims that scientists keep linking lack of sleep to many variegated health problems. It was discovered before, the study goes on to say, that shortage of sleep – meaning sleep that lasts six hours and less – has to do with processes in the body leading to obesity, developing diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, even mortality. Vigilant and cognitive abilities also suffer, the functions of the brain lose their sharpness.
The Sleep Study
The team leader, sleep expert Prof. Derk-Jan Dijk, referred to sleep as a ‘pillar of health’ on a par with workouts and eating habits. In order to get the picture of gene activity the research team analyzed the impact on the volunteers’ RNA, the chemical that travels between genes and cells passing on coded information, during one week when the participants were getting insufficient sleep of no longer than six hours. Finally, they were kept for something like 40 hours with no sleep at all, and the researchers took their RNA samples every three hours.
The information they garnered was compared against ditto from the same group of participants when they had 10-hour sleep for a week. In that case they were subjected to the same period of two-day sleep deprivation that produced a series of RNA samples.
The experts concluded that lack of sleep brings down alertness and general performance significantly; it may be essential for people in highly industrialized countries. The Brits, for one, suffer from insufficient sleep with over 1% of people sleeping less than 6 hours and over 30% have insomnia.
Good Sleep Works Wonders for Children
Meanwhile German scientists came up with information that a good night’s sleep makes children’s memory sharper and clearer. The University of Tuebingen’s experts’ research showed that deep sleep induces slower wave activity in children’s brains which influences their mental and cognitive abilities. Consequently, insufficient sleep will produce the opposite effect.