So does sleep really matter? I’m assuming if you’re watching this video, you’ve probably already figured out that sleep is kind of a big deal. It impacts not only our daytime behavior; it impacts our health. Everything about our lives, sleep is starting to impact. The quantity and quality of sleep that we get is kind of a big deal. So what happens if maybe just one or two nights of sleep, maybe three or four, maybe just a couple of weeks of not getting any of the sleep that we need? Is that a big deal? And the answer is yes, it is. It really is a big deal. But what I want to assure you of, because this is the thing that my patients always come to me and say, “Listen, I was told if I don’t get sleep, I’m going to, and you can put anything in there, lose my job, I’m going to get cancer. I’m going to get diabetes. I’m going to increase my weight.”
And that insomnia brain that you start having around that and the worry you have around your sleep and the ability to get sleep is going to impact your sleep as well. So, I only give you these because I think it’s important to say, “Listen, if you’re experiencing some of these symptoms, it may be related to your sleep.” Be assured, using cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, we can start solving some of those sleep problems. So, I’m only showing you these because I want you to understand there may be some of those health issues you have that are related to the fact you’re not sleeping very well today.
Short Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep Loss and Its Effect on Performance and Alertness
So, short term sleep loss, probably one of the easiest ones for us to think about, is decreased performance and alertness. We know that if we’ve just not been able to sleep very well, maybe stayed awake all night or we’re working late into the evening, we know that our ability to perform and to be able to do the tasks that we need to do, begin to start to go down. We know that driving a car becomes difficult. Our reaction time gets slower and those types of things, so we know that lack of sleep or just not getting the quantity and quality that we need will impact our performance and our alertness in the daytime. We all know that alcohol actually impacts our performance, and none of us would actually get in the car, put our child in the back, and probably go to a bar, maybe drink a six-pack of beer, and then drive our child home. We know that’s probably not a good thing to do because our reaction time is pretty poor during this period of time.
But did you know that actually sleep loss looks just like alcohol in our system? If we’re not getting the sleep we need, our ability to perform, our alertness, our ability to break, our ability to react to things in our environment go down just like we’ve had alcohol, and are drunk. So we need to make sure that we’re really wide awake and alert. Don’t drive with your kids at three or four o’clock in the morning, trying to get somewhere overnight. Get the sleep that you need.
Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss
There’s another thing around memory deficits, and we may notice, as we’re getting a little bit older, that, when I read a book, I don’t remember the last page I read. When I read a magazine, I don’t remember maybe paragraphs at a time. And we started noticing these memory deficits that happen as we grow a little bit older.
What they actually found is that for older people who are having a little bit of cognitive decline and a little bit of memory issues, not necessarily full Alzheimer’s disease, but they’re starting to have some cognitive decline, that with these patients they were able to give them supplemental melatonin. This supplemental melatonin helped them because we produce melatonin at night in a dark environment, and that’s one of the things that help us fall asleep and maintain sleep. So, what they were able to do is give these older patients, who are starting to have some cognitive decline, some extra melatonin. What they found is their cognitive decline started to decrease. So we know that sleep is important for our memory, for being able to remember new things, being able to remember some old things as well.
There was some new research that was out that looked at the cognitive decline and memory deficits associated with Alzheimer’s disease. And what we do know is that patients who have Alzheimer’s disease have a buildup of Amyloid plaquing and Tau proteins in their brains. And what we found out is that, during sleep, especially Delta sleep or slow-wave sleep, we have this system that we call a glymphatic system. The glymphatic system is there for the brain to wash out some of these tau proteins and other neuro wastes that are associated with that during deep sleep. We need to make sure we’re getting the sleep that we need, or we’re going to start to see some cognitive decline associated around that. A lot of times, my patients say, “You know Robert, so what is a great position to sleep in at night? What’s good? What’s bad?” Well, the interesting thing around this glymphatic system, we know that lying on your side, especially in the left sideline position at night, this is going to be the best position for your glymphatic system to work. Now it works in any position that we sleep in, but be assured that if you want the best, it’s actually in that left lateral position.
Cognitive Effects of Sleep Deprivation
So we started talking about memory decline associated with Alzheimer’s and those types of things, and we started looking at cognitive impairment. That’s just our ability to reason. That’s what we as higher functioning human beings do. That’s what happens in the front part of our brain. It allows us to say, “Listen, I know that I need to make a left three stoplights down, so I need to start getting in the left-hand lane.” It allows us to do math problems. It allows us to do all this reasoning. So there was a doctor. Dr. Dinja said, “You know what, if the whole population is starting to look at just getting six hours of sleep per night.” And that’s about where people are starting to go. It’s just about six hours of sleep per night. “If that’s all people are going to get, what happens to cognitive thinking if they’re only going to get six hours of sleep?”
And what Dr. Dinja’s found out is that, if you only get six hours of sleep for two weeks, not two months or two years, but if you just choose to only get six hours of sleep, which is not enough, for just two weeks, they had the same cognitive decline as someone who stayed awake for two whole nights. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I want a surgeon working on me that has been awake for two whole nights. I don’t want a truck driver coming down the road at me at night or in the daytime or anytime that’s been awake for two whole nights. I don’t want an accountant doing my accounting work who’s been awake for two nights. So, it’s important we get the sleep we need. You may think you’re functioning well on six hours of sleep, but you don’t know what it feels like to be normal again.
A Lack of Sleep and Its Effect on Stress
Decreased ability to deal with stress. You’ve had a boss who just seemed to blow up all the time. Any little stress at all in their lives, and they blew up. We know that people who don’t sleep very well, they don’t deal with stress in their environment, and you’ve probably felt that too. If you’ve been a young parent and your child acts out, and you haven’t had the sleep you need, you can react rather than thinking about what you need to do.
Anxiety and Sleep Deprivation
There are also things around anxiety as well that we know the people who don’t sleep very well, the parts of their brain that are responsible for thinking around anxiety, we see heightened areas just by not getting enough sleep. So when anxiety comes into their life or stressors come to their life or anything like that, then we overreact today.
That anxiety, we feel that anxious event associated with that, and then there’s just poor quality of life. If you’re not sleeping very well, we just don’t feel good. How many of us have said, “I don’t feel like,” and you can answer that any way you want. “I don’t feel like going to exercise. I don’t feel like cooking tonight because I’m just too tired.” Those are not great things. And then there’s an occupational injury. We know that a lot of times, whether it’s an airplane accident, a train wreck, or a car wreck, these are associated with just not getting the sleep that we need. Automobile injuries are very common. And there are times in the night, like that three, four o’clock in the morning, where we start to see accident rates go up, associated with people who are just sleep-deprived and not sleeping very well.
The Long Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation
So that’s kind of short-term sleep loss. That’s up to a couple of weeks of not getting quantity and quality of sleep. So now, let’s look at longterm sleep loss. Let’s look at what happens after four weeks or longer of not getting the sleep that you need. The first step on the list is actually high blood pressure, and people go, “Really, Robert. So you’re going to change high blood pressure by just allowing someone to get the sleep we need?” and the answer is yes. We can put patients who have sleep apnea, and we can put them on a CPAP, BiPAP, and an AutoPAP. We can treat their sleep apnea, and we start to see high blood pressure go down.
A Lack of Sleep and Heart Attacks
Another one is around heart attacks. And for a long time, we knew there was a correlation between lack of sleep, a lack of quantity and quality of sleep, and heart attacks.
And what they did is they did a study, and they said, “Well, let’s look at just maybe one hour of sleep loss, just one hour of sleep loss. Could it really impact the rate of heart attacks?” So they looked at an entire country, and they said when they lost one hour of sleep associated with a change in a clock, that happens in the springtime. So we changed the clock. We spring it forwards, so we lose an hour of sleep. They looked at heart attack rates the next entire week to see what heart attack rates did that next week. And what they found is that next week, heart attacks went up. The rate of heart attacks went up throughout the entire country.
Now then, they said, “Okay, so if a heart attack can happen with just a one-hour loss of sleep, what if I give you an extra hour of sleep? What’s going to happen then?” And actually, what we found is heart attacks went down the week after. We get an extra hour of sleep in the fall when we turn the clock back. We get an extra hour of sleep, and suddenly heart attack rates go down. We now know that it’s probably associated with inflammation. We notice that patients that are not sleeping well, whether quantity or quality, we see higher levels of inflammation. Higher levels of inflammation are what puts us at risk of having a heart attack associated with that.
A Lack of Sleep and Strokes
And then we have this thing called a stroke. And you go, “Wow, really? You could increase your risk of stroke?” Yes, you do. You increase your risk of stroke. And it’s all around the fact that if I have this higher level of inflammation, it’s going to put me at a higher risk of having a stroke just like having a heart attack.
Obesity and Sleep Loss
And then we know that obesity is rampant in the US today. We know that not only in the US, but it’s across the world. We see more people being obese. There’s a couple of things that happen. What we see with patients who are not sleeping very well, again, quantity and quality, we see changes in what’s called Leptin and Ghrelin. Leptin and Ghrelin are appetite control hormones, and it says whether I’m hungry or I’m full. We see an imbalance in that if we’re not sleeping well. The other thing that we see that we now know through all the new research that’s coming out is that changes in inflammation will change our ability to regulate glucose well. And when we don’t regulate glucose well, it puts us at a higher risk of obesity as well.
Sleep Deprivation and Depression
And then there’s this thing called depression. We know that people who don’t seem to sleep very well, have a higher risk of depression and we say, “Boy, I don’t understand that you know. What’s going on in their lives is causing them to be depressed.”
There’s a lot of things that can happen. I’m not saying that sleep is the only thing that happens, but depression can be caused by a lack of sleep. We see again, around inflammation, people who don’t sleep well, have higher levels of inflammation. Now we know, there’s a direct correlation between high levels of inflammation and depression.
Sleep Loss and Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD, ADHD, etc.)
And then there’s this thing called ADD, ADHD, attention deficit disorder. And it’s kind of a hot topic today, but what we do know is that children who don’t sleep very well, because again, either they’re up late doing schoolwork, they’re up watching television, working on their computer or whatever it is. But children today are not getting enough sleep that they need. We’re starting to see children getting one to two hours less sleep than what they should be getting. And what we see with that is those children aren’t getting the sleep that they need, they have the same type of behaviors in the daytime as someone who has ADD, ADHD. So some of the people, not all kids, but some of them may just need to get a little extra sleep, and we’ll see those symptoms start to subside.
Sleep Divorce as a Treatment for Sleep Loss
And then there’s disruption of the bedroom partner’s quality of life. We know that if one partner isn’t sleeping well, oftentimes, it disturbs the partner next to them. There’s a whole new trend out there that comes around on occasion. It’s called bedroom divorce or sleep divorce, where we’re taking couples who, one of them is not sleeping well, and they’re moving them to the other room. It’s most often associated with snoring, which that snoring is oftentimes associated with sleep apnea. I say let them sleep together. Solve the sleeping issue so they can sleep in the same bedroom. Don’t send them off to another bedroom. We need to stay together.
Sleep Deprivation and Its Effect on Your Immune System
And then there’s this whole thing around a decreased immune response. People who don’t sleep very well, if they’re getting seven hours or less per night, they’re three times more likely to get sick when exposed to a cold virus. All of us are exposed to cold viruses. Most of us can fight it off, but if you’re not sleeping very well, it’s going to cause issues with you fighting off those infections.
Joint Pain Associated with Sleep Loss
And then, increases in pain. We talked about inflammation already, and we see that with increased inflammation in the body, it increases joint pain. Maybe now you’re starting to have shoulder and hip pain that you’ve never had before. Maybe it’s neck pain, maybe it’s hand pain, but it could be associated with that whole level of increase in inflammation. Some research out of a university in Israel, showed that if they decrease quantity and quality of sleep in people that had no symptoms of pain at all, what symptoms do you have? One of the most common ones they had was low back pain. People who had never experienced low back pain, which is about 70% of the population at one time or another, is going to experience low back pain. It was actually due to their lack of quantity and quality of sleep.
Night Time Snacking and Its Effect on Diabetes and Breast Cancer
And then there’s some really interesting research looking at nighttime eating behaviors and even breast cancer. They looked at this intermittent fasting that’s going on today that is kind of a popular fad. And there’s been some interesting research out of the University of California that looked at eating at regular meal times but then waiting longer between dinner and breakfast. And what they found is that for every three hours of extra fasting at night, a female or woman was to decrease her likelihood of getting hyperglycemia by 20%. And hyperglycemia is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer and diabetes. We want to make sure we don’t do that nighttime snacking that a lot of people do, either prior to going to bed or in the middle of the night. Don’t get up and eat.
Intermittent fasting not only is good for sleep, but it’s also good for a lot of risk factors associated with cancer and diabetes. And we know that, overall, if you’re not getting the sleep that you need, we see a higher risk of type two diabetes, which is very common today.
We’re starting to see a lot more type two diabetes than we’ve ever seen, not just in overweight older individuals, but in younger individuals even getting down to their teens. We’re starting to see type two diabetes associated with that. One of the things we do know around cancer and sleep, we know that females who have had a history of breast cancer, if they don’t get the sleep that they need after they’ve been treated for, their risk of getting breast cancer in the future increases. There’s also another thing that they’ve looked at and this is a gene called the H per two gene. Now the H per two gene is associated with our circadian rhythm, but it also protects us against cancer development. And what we’ve seen is that people who are not getting the sleep that they need have lower levels of this H per two gene, and it increases their risk of cancer overall.
So I know we’ve gone through a lot. I know we’ve talked a lot about maybe some of the dangers associated with not getting the sleep that you need and some of the things that could happen associated with that. Please be assured again that we’re going to work with you to help solve these issues so that you don’t have to worry about getting these things. We don’t want you to develop an insomnia brain, where you worry about all of these diseases if you’re not going to get the sleep that you need. That’s why we’re here. CBTI, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia has been shown to help us solve these sleep problems, so we don’t have to worry about these health issues associated with not getting the sleep that we need.