Our sleeping pattern 'has a crucial influence on our lifespan' 3 months ago

Our sleeping pattern 'has a crucial influence on our lifespan'

Oh dear.

We are forever finding ways to enhance our sleeping patterns so that we can wake up every morning without feeling tired.

Some of us have trouble getting to sleep but others find they wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to the land of nod (we have just the trick for you if that happens though).

As you toss and turn in the bed, you think about how much time sleep takes up and how it could be spent doing something more useful.

'Why sleep?' you ask yourself, and that is something that Matthew Walker has talked a lot about.

His book, Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams, examines how there are links between sleep loss and Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health.

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The sleep scientist hopes that by pointing out the connections, people will ultimately try harder to get the recommended eight hours a night that their body needs.

“No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation," he writes.

“We have stigmatised sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honour.

"Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world - Alzheimer's, cancer, obesity, diabetes - has very strong causal links to deficient sleep."

How do we change our sleeping patterns in order to help expand our time on Earth? Walker believes that we need to treat sleep as an activity, like going to work or going to the gym.

"Once you know that after just one night of only four or five hours’ sleep, your natural killer cells – the ones that attack the cancer cells that appear in your body every day – drop by 70%, a non-negotiable eight-hour sleep opportunity is needed every night."