Little Known Ways Not Sleeping Enough Harms Health
The alarm clock and increasing demands for productivity may be eating away at your health. Although most men are quick to brush off the chance that being a “little tired” could affect their heart, their brain, and their hormones, they’d be wrong.
Consider for a moment that average decreases in sleep over the years have paralleled the rise in heart disease, diabetes, and waistlines. At the same time, men’s testosterone levels have been dropping. In fact, average testosterone levels among men today at 44 percent lower than in 1970.
While sleep isn’t the only factor contributing to these health problems, it is one of the factors. And it is one that most of us can control. Read on to learn about the amazing connection between sleep and health.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
Napoleon Bonaparte is known for having unfavorable views of men sleeping in. He is quoted as having said that men should sleep no longer than 6 hours per night. But was he right?
Modern sleep researchers have been investigating this question of how much sleep we need, and they disagree with Napoleon. According to the experts on sleep, people who think they need less than 7 hours of sleep per night are lying to themselves.
Men (and women) need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night. As we’ll see shortly, anything less can have severe consequences.
But what determines if you’re one of those people who needs 7 hours or one of those who needs 9 hours? Just recently scientists have discovered one of the genes that can determine how much sleep a person needs. So genetics plays a part. But lifestyle also plays a part. Those who lead stressful lives may need more sleep than those who are less stressed.
The thing is, you can’t cheat the system. If you’re one of those guys who needs 9 hours because of genetics, then you need 9 hours. Don’t try to be one of those guys who only needs 7 hours because it won’t work for you.
Whatever your sleep needs, the simplest and most foolproof way to find out is to go to bed early every night and sleep until you wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. And do that every night.
It’s easy to think that being a little tired isn’t that big of a deal. As we’ll see, some of the worst consequences come from being a little tired all the time - by shortchanging yourself on sleep every night. But short term sleep shortage can have deadly consequences as well.
In the United States every year there are 200,000 traffic accidents caused by drivers who are tired. Studies show that even just a little bit of tiredness can cause negative consequences when it comes to driving. And research shows that we don’t even know that our tiredness is causing us to drive poorly!
Of course, not all of those 200,000 accidents are fatal. But enough are that it’s worth being well rested before starting your morning commute. Also consider this. Surveys indicate that more than half of drivers admit to falling asleep at the wheel at least once in the last year. Those moments may last only a split second, but they can become fatal.
Studies do show that caffeinated coffee can reduce accidents due to tiredness. But for your health, it’s best to combine coffee and refreshing sleep.
Heart Disease and Diabetes
Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. Diabetes is on the rise. They share many common risk factors such as smoking, body fatness, high stress, and low physical activity. We hear about a lot of those risk factors. But there’s another one that is just as significant, but the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association aren’t talking about it.
That factor is sleep.
Men who sleep less than 7 hours per night are at a significantly higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Go to bed an hour earlier. It’s good for your heart.
Everyone is talking about the “obesity epidemic”. The experts are warning everyone to eat less and move more. And American’s are complying. But meanwhile, everyone is getting fatter. Could there be a sleep connection?
It turns out that researchers have found a strong connection between sleep and body fatness. Men who sleep less than their needs have greater body fatness. Meanwhile, men who sleep enough naturally are leaner.
Alzheimer’s disease didn’t even exist a hundred years ago when everyone was sleeping more. Now it is increasing rapidly. As we’ve seen in other articles, there are other factors that can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. For example, a lack of sunlight, omega 6 fat, and certain drugs may all contribute. But so does sleep.
Research shows that men who sleep enough regularly have a low risk of Alzheimer’s. But men who shortchange themselves on sleep have a high risk.
Testosterone is one of the important male hormones. We men need to produce ample amounts. However, as stated earlier, men today have 44 percent less testosterone than they did in 1970. Of course, there may be many reasons for that. But one of the reasons that science has proven is insufficient sleep.
Testosterone production actually occurs primarily during sleep. So for every second of sleep that you deprive yourself, you are reducing your testosterone levels.
To protect your health, it is essential that you make enough time for and prioritize sleep. Get to bed early because our biological clocks are literally connected to the light-dark cycles of the sun’s movement. Sleeping at night in the dark is optimal. Give yourself plenty of time each night so that you can wake feeling refreshed in the morning.