The record for number of hours without sleep is 264, that’s 11 days. This amazing feat was achieved in 1965 by Randy Gardner, a 17-year-old high school student. A Chinese man trying to break the record died after going 11 days without sleep. On the other hand a human can go for more than three weeks without food! Water, another essential commodity, is a different story with the maximum withdrawal period accepted as being about a week. With all the emphasis we place on eating the correct foods, drinking enough liquids, diets and watching what we eat why do we not do the same for something as important as our sleep and the quality of sleep? Especially seeing that we would sooner die of inadequate sleep than inadequate food.
What makes sleeping so important? Sleep plays a vitally important role enabling the brain and body to function correctly. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. It helps your brain work properly – While you’re sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day it is also forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. Sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Sleep also supports healthy growth and development, especially in kids and adolescents! Getting enough quality sleep can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. So there’s a lot happening once you close your eyes each night.
Many people are not aware of the risks of a sleep deficiency. In fact, they might not even realise that they are sleep deficient! Even with limited or poor-quality sleep, many individuals think that they can function well. Individuals with insomnia find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. If you have difficulty sleeping at night you are not alone! Some 30-40% of adults indicate some level of insomnia according to the South African Society of Sleep Medicine (SASSM) with 10-15% of individuals indicating that the insomnia is chronic and/or severe. It is more common in woman and increases with age. If a lack of sleep is starting to affect your concentration, memory or mood you may have a sleeping problem. With up to 30-40% of the population suffering from insomnia, that’s a large amount of individuals not getting a good night’s rest and functioning sub-par! Sleep deprivation is responsible for slower reactivity times and poor memory, in fact after 20 hours without sleep reaction times are similar to those with a 0.08 blood alcohol level! This may not only mean that there are a lot of tired people walking around but it can be the reason behind car accidents and many other work related accidents.
Drivers aren’t the only ones affected by sleep deficiency with it affecting people in all lines of work, from students, lawyers, pilots, mechanics, health care workers to the person sitting next to or across the table from you right now…. Subsequently, sleep deficiency is not only harmful on a personal level, but it also can cause large-scale damage. Sleep deficiency has played a role in many human errors linked to tragic accidents, such as nuclear reactor meltdowns, grounding of large ships, and aviation accidents. (The accident that led to the nuclear power plant explosion at Chernobyl, the worst in history, was ruled to be a result of sleep deprivation by engineers that had been working for 13 hours or more. The Exxon Valdez ship running aground and causing the second biggest oil spill in the history of the United States was the result of a tired third mate falling asleep at the wheel).
You might have thought that insomnia was simply being unable to fall asleep at night. It might surprise you to learn that in fact insomnia is defined as an experience of inadequate or poor sleep characterised by one or more of the following: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, waking up too early in the morning, non-refreshing sleep. With daytime consequences of: tiredness, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating and irritability.
A lack or decreased quality of sleep has been linked to a variety of issues including: high levels of anxiety, increased risk of stroke or even premature death! Many experts agree that a lack of sleep can also contribute to a greater likelihood of many diseases (due to its effect on immunity). All-nighters can decrease our body’s ability to fight colds and flu making us more susceptible to a cold or being unable to recover after a bacterial infection. as the lack of sleep decrease our T-cell counts (the infection fighters in our blood) as well as increasing the levels of markers of stress in the blood.
A lack of sleep can also be the symptom of another problem. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) state that insomnia may be related to neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, emotional disorders like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress syndrome, and may also be due to other potential causes like arthritis, asthma, headaches, hyperthyroidism, GI disorders and menopause.
Lack of sleep can also be self-induced by: working long hours, taking care of the kids and increased stress resulting in a restless night. Abuse of alcohol, recreational drugs or too much caffeine may also result in less time spent in deep sleep at night.
Results of insomnia:
Studies have shown that disturbance if the body’s central circadian rhythms are disturbed it results in an increased level of the stress hormone cortisol. Prolonged levels of increased cortisol levels reduces the density of bones and reduces muscle mass, can weaken the immune system, promotes accumulation of fat in the abdominal area and can affect the function of the thyroid gland Sleep deprivation has also been linked to obesity as hormone levels of leptin and ghrelin (hunger hormones) is altered causing a perceptive shift in hunger.
What does Chiropractic have to do with sleep?
In a recent study of 221 Chiropractic patients, one third reported immediate effect on their sleep after a Chiropractic adjustment. From this group a massive 98% recorded improved results with Chiropractic versus those whose sleep patterns did not get better. Pain (acute and chronic) is a major cause of sleep disturbances, be it neck, back, shoulder pain or headaches, ALL of which chiropractic has been shown to be able to help.
There are many medications available to solve sleep disorders but they have side effects and can lead to cancer and heart attacks if used for too long. To sleep peacefully you need to treat the cause from its roots! A vitalistic Chiropractor will investigate the actual cause of the problem. Chiropractic adjustments correct any misalignments (subluxations) in the spine. These subluxations compress nerves and cause a lack of communication between the spine and the brain. Chiropractors remove this nervous system interference to enable the body to function optimally. Regular care can address and solve many of the problems that might cause insomnia as well as helping to improve sleep quality and improving the quality of day to day life.
See a vitalistic chiropractor and get adjusted today – they can help switch your nervous systems power on so you can get a great nights rest when you switch your lights off at night.
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1. Sleep and Sleep Disorders: A Public Health Challenge – US Department of Health & Human Services – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/
2. Tjepkema, M. Insomnia-Statistics Canada 2005 (November), Health Reports Vol. 17, No. 1.
3. What causes insomnia? – US Department of Health & Human Services – National Institutes of Health. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/ health/dci/Diseases/inso/inso _causes.html
4. Gorman, C. Why we sleep – Time 2004 (Dec. 17). http://www.time.com/time/magazine /article/0,9171,1009765-1,00.html
5. Mann, D. (Dr. Michael W. Smith, reviewer) Can better sleep mean catching fewer colds? Lack of sleep affects your immune system – WebMD.com. http://www.webmd.com/sleep¬disorders/excessive-sleepiness– 10/immune-system-lack-of-sleep
6. Yager, J. Don’t overlook health benefits of sleep. Getting enough sleep can improve and lengthen your life – ConsumerAffairs.com 2010 (Aug.) http://www.consumeraffairs.com/ boomerific/2010/020_getting_enough _rest.html#ixzz17G2GOAMU
7. Melatonin. US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/ plus/druginfo/natural/940.html
8. Jamison, JR. Insomnia: does chiropractic help? – J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2005 (Mar-Apr); 28(3): 179-86