Less sleep = aging faster
By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
We crave rest the way we crave food and water, and we need it just as much. Scientists have studied why we need sleep for decades. On the face of it, our need for sleep doesn’t make any sense, as while we sleep, we’re rendered defenseless. But research shows even the toughest of the tough are less effective, and even age faster, without a good night’s rest.
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control, sleep insufficiency is linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational error. It is increasingly recognized as important to public health. Drivers nodding off while driving, and others having difficulty performing daily tasks because of sleepiness, contribute to these hazardous outcomes.
Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency, the report continues, are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.
“Sleep insufficiency may be caused by broad scale societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules, but sleep disorders such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also play an important role. An estimated 50-70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder,” the report states.
Perhaps vanity and innovation will ultimately inspire improved sleep habits, as science now shows just one bad night’s sleep can make older adults age faster, and that new technology can help people measure and improve their quality of sleep.
According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, The American Academy Of Sleep Medicine study found that lack of sleep directly impacts the causes of biological aging. The findings “further support the hypothesis that sleep deprivation — because it boosts the molecular processes involved in growing older — may be connected to a greater risk of disease.”
“Our data support the hypothesis that one night of not getting enough sleep in older adults activates important biological pathways that promote biological aging,” said lead author Dr. Judith Carroll at the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology in Los Angeles.
In a written release about the study, results were reported on 29 adults between the ages of 61 and 86 who were observed over a four-night period. Sleep quality was analyzed, and blood samples were taken each morning to assess gene expression.
The stunning results? “A single night of troubled sleep activated gene patterns consistent with faster aging,” said the report, which was published online in the journal Sleep.
This study further complements research linking lack of sleep with faster aging. A 2013 study, for example, found that those who didn’t sleep well exhibited more signs of fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced skin elasticity.
The amount of sleep one needs depends on a person’s age. Most experts recommend that adults get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night.
At the University of Tennessee, football coach Butch Jones made an investment in sleep for his team this past season, using the latest sleep innovations to see if players would perform better and recover faster if they also hit their marks on getting enough rest.
As detailed on the team website, and UT Football, in conjunction with Rise Science, a Chicago-based company that focuses on sleep and its effect on athletes, monitored each of its player’s sleep via an advanced mattress sensor that measured heart rate, respiration, and movement throughout the night.
Using a phone app component, the technology also tracked how long it took players to fall asleep and their heart rates during rest, as a higher resting heart rate suggested that their bodies hadn’t fully recovered from a day of practice while they sleep.
Sleep coaches then analyzed the data for each player, and helped them set bedtimes to help them get the best quality of sleep possible. How did the athletes themselves adapt to the experiment and the changes it required?
“I have more energy during the day. I don’t know if my reaction time is any better, but hopefully it is,” said tight end Ethan Wolf.
You don’t have to be a big-time athlete to benefit from sleep sensors. Many of today’s smart phones come with apps that help us track sleep patterns. Though most of us probably know the impact of a poor night’s rest, even without benefit of the latest and greatest fitness tracker.
How did it all work out for the football players at the University of Tennessee?
According to the trainer who proposed the study, Allison Maurer, athletics nutritionist and one of Tennessee’s four primary members of the program’s sports science team, “players who participated in the program averaged 37 more minutes of sleep per night than they did in the summer, when the program began,” despite having classes added to their schedule.
“Perhaps most importantly, the players got the point, noticing the difference between the nights they slept well and the nights they didn’t. It reinforced what Tennessee football coach Butch Jones constantly told them about rest and recovery, and produced an environment in which sleep became a competitive enterprise,” the team’s website reported.
Next week we’ll look at the role new anti-aging technology plays in helping us protect one of the most important assets in keeping a youthful outlook on life: our vision.
Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Problem
Partial sleep deprivation linked to biological aging in older adults
Here’s What Lack Of Sleep Can Do To You In Just One Day
Esteé Lauder Clinical Trial Finds Link between Sleep Deprivation and Skin Aging
Tennessee football takes scientific approach