The Amount of Sleep Your Body Needs to Fight Chronic Diseases
It is not difficult for most people to understand the importance of a good night’s sleep to awaken refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of a new day. Less known is the scientific evidence that explains how poor sleep habits are the root cause behind the development of many chronic diseases, in a similar fashion to smoking or eating a nutritionally depleted diet. A growing body of research studies over the past five to ten years has implicated insufficient and poor quality sleep with increased risk for overweight and obesity, cancer and cognitive decline.
Two independent research bodies have been released that implicate poor sleep with increased risk of insulin resistance leading to full-blown diabetes as well as higher incidence of heart disease beginning in adolescence through the teen and young adult years. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry have published the result of a study in the journal, Sleep suggesting that increasing the amount of sleep that teenagers get could improve their insulin resistance and prevent the future onset of diabetes.
Sleep is Found to Directly Impact Insulin Metabolism and Disease Risk in Adolescents and Teens
The study’s author, Dr. Karen Matthew, noted, “High levels of insulin resistance can lead to the development of diabetes… we found that if teens that normally get six hours of sleep per night get one extra hour of sleep, they would improve insulin resistance by 9 percent.” The study team tracked the sleep patterns, duration and insulin resistance levels of 245 healthy high school teens. Participants had their fasting blood glucose tested and kept a sleep log for a period of one week. Weekday sleep duration averaged 6.4 hours, significantly lower than times recorded on weekends.
The study demonstrated that higher insulin resistance is associated with shorter sleep duration independent of race, age, gender, waist circumference, and body mass index. The study team concluded that interventions to promote metabolic health in adolescence should include efforts to extend nightly sleep duration.
Seven to Nine Hours of Sound Sleep are Required Every Night to Fight Chronic Diseases
In an independent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, scientists found an association between sleep disturbance and cardiovascular risk in adolescents, as determined by high cholesterol levels, increased body mass index (BMI) and hypertension. Researchers determined that twenty percent of adolescents have significant sleep problems, such as sleep disturbances or sleep deprivation which was associated with a higher cholesterol level, higher BMI, larger waist size, higher blood pressure and increased risk of hypertension.
Researchers concluded “that sleep disturbance in adolescents may significantly impact their cardiovascular risk in adulthood. Efforts to improve sleep habits early in life could be important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.”
Children, teens and young adults typically demonstrate poor sleep habits due to increased stress and workload from studies and peer pressure. Additionally, diet is frequently suboptimal, placing them at even greater risk of chronic health issues later in life. This body of research clearly demonstrates the need to encourage a sound night’s sleep of between seven and nine hours to lower risk of insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease in adolescents and teens.
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John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and diet, health and nutrition researcher and author with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives.
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