It has been known for some time that the average amount of sleep people get has declined over the years. The average person, according to The Sleep Council, gets six-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. The Surrey University says this is not enough and that the magic number is more like 7 hours.
We live in a hustle and bustling culture where sleeping is viewed as a luxury. After all, who needs sleep if you can sleep when you’re dead?
The University of Surrey in the UK conducted an experiment on volunteers in order to determine whether the effects of switching from six-and-a-half hours to seven-and-a-half hours of sleep (And vice versa) had any effect on people. The tests revealed that people struggle with mental agility tasks when they had less sleep. But the most interesting results came from the blood tests.
It turns out that certain genes can be switched on or off by changes in the amount of sleep we have.
“We found that overall there were around 500 genes that were affected,” Dr Simon Archer
explained. “Some which were going up and some which were going down.” What they discovered is that when the volunteers reduced their hours of sleep, the genes that are
associated with processes like inflammation, immune response and response to stress became more active. The team also saw increases in the activity of the genes that are associated with diabetes and cancer.
What is most worrying for me is that while the average amount of sleep we are getting has fallen, the stats of obesity and diabetes have sky rocketed. This is compounded by unhealthy foods and a lack of exercise.
So the glaring message from this experiment is that sleeping more can make you healthier. If you can alter your sleeping patterns you definitely should because it just might save your life. Rest assured tonight in the thought that more sleep – and not the proverbial apple, in this case – can keep the doctor away.
Article By Zimbeni Mphande