Tag Archives: Sleep

New on How Critical Your Sleep Is and How to Optimize It

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

5 Sleeping babies_comboDo you toss and turn at night? Do you have difficulties in getting to sleep or staying asleep or both?

If the answer is “YES”, you are a part of the statistics as to an estimated 60 million adults in the US suffering from a sleep disorder. But, taking it lightly is risky.

Previously, I discussed about how sleep disorders may increase a risk to cancer by weakening or disrupting the immune functions and promoting inflammation (see CancerPreventionDaily.com). In this post, I’d like to share some intriguing updates emerged from a new perspective.

Notably, I’m also providing a “Sleep Regimen” in ROOM that is memorable and actionable for a better sleep.

First, let’s dive into recent interesting discovery on serious sleep disorder.

As you may know, sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder with trouble breathing during sleep; in particular, a halt/stop to breathing may last 10 to 30 seconds and numerous episodes a night. So, it’s potentially life-threatening if left undiagnosed or untreated.

Sleep-disordered breathing, e.g. sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome (SAHS), contributed to cancer development – based on the animal studies simulating SAHS’ characters, i.e. nocturnal irregular hypoxia (deprivation of oxygen to the tissue) and sleep breakup. Repetitive hypoxia and reoxygenation influenced tumor generation by fueling new blood vessel formation and cancer cell growth. Furthermore, human studies found that higher cancer incidence and mortality are observed in patients with severe sleep-disordered breathing.

Sleep disorders (varied from chronic insomnia to obstructive sleep apnea) have also been linked to many chronic conditions, such as stroke, heart failure, lung diseases, neurological disease, kidney disease, and depression, just to cite some, in both adults and pediatric populations.

Overall, insufficient/poor sleep can impact your health, happiness, safety, career, and quality of life.

Next, how to optimize your sleep

There are multiple ways to enhance the quality of your sleep, e.g. healthy lifestyle, exercise, stress-relief, pain management, etc. However, “sleep hygiene” is one of the top fundamentals, and you can gain direct benefit.

That’s why I’d prefer a non-pharmacological management, and recommend specifically a “Sleep Regimen” in a simple, memorable ROOM to assist you optimize your sleep. Here is how it works.

R: Rest, Relax, and have a Ritual to unwind before your bedtime.

O: O=0 Zero distractions. Distractions range from electronic/mobile devices, TV/radio, bright lights, noises, air, plus Temperature (an important factor – not too hot or too cold), so eliminate or minimize them from your night environment.

O: O=0 Zero food or stimulant drinks, including alcohol, coffee, sugary drinks and/or stimulant medications. Limit water intake too. No meal intake 2 hours prior to your bedtime.

M: Mandate the time and mattress. It is critical to ensure your premier sleep time (7-8 hours per night); go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time every day, and stick with it even during the weekend. Remember: Invest a really good, comfortable mattress.

Let me recap itDesign or create and utilize the R.O.O.M. consistently.

In addition, find out the cause of your sleeping problem(s), and don’t rely on “sleeping pills”, unless drug intervention is absolutely necessary.

At the end, I wish you sleep like a baby, and smile like a baby too, for your well-being and vitality.

 

Image Credits: Oseias Ferreira at FreeImages.com;

Claire57100, Zinz25, Esudroff, PubicDomainPictures at Pixabay.com

Sleep Disordes, Immune Suppression, Cancer Risk

When an old saying tells you should “sleep like a baby” or “sleep like a log”, modern science is backing it up, especially when insufficient sleep can suppress your immune system. The human immune system plays an important role in protecting the body against the development of cancer. The cells of the immune system are our defenders, constantly destroying and eliminating any cell in the body that initiates or undergoes a malignant change. When this natural defense mechanism is weakened, as malignant cells increase and then overpower the immune system, cancerous growth takes place.

View from the real world:
I’m sure everyone can relate to what inadequate sleep can cost in our daily lives. Sleep deprivation and/or disorders are linked to an array of health issues from fatigue, lacking mental alertness, and depression to more serious problems such as heart failure, hypertension and diabetes. Insomnia certainly contributes to road or workplace accidents. Of significance, sleep disorders are commonly associated with chronic inflammatory diseases, and can lead to immune suppression. Some studies suggest that shortened/reduced nightly sleep is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer development.

View at the cellular level:
Sleep is a key factor for supporting a functional body defense system. During deep sleep, our bodies work to strengthen our immune system by producing and releasing potent immune-enhancing substances, such as cytokines. In contrast, there are cancer-stimulatory cytokines, which may be switched to dominance when sleep is deprived. It seems that cytokines are a group of critical players in the sleep-immune interaction.

When sleep is deprived, the immune T-cells go down and inflammatory cytokines go up, as shown by many studies. This alone may post a potential risk for a suppressed body defense. When your immune system is weak and not functioning well, germs or pathogens can easily penetrate the body and commit destruction to the cells, thereby you are susceptible to colds, flu, and even more serious diseases including cancer. In addition, sleep deprivation may lead to a higher level of C-reactive protein – an inflammation marker. Inflammation plays a role in heart disease, atherosclerosis and cancer.

How to get a good night’s sleep:
We all have had experience how it feels after a good night’s sleep. For those who are unable to sleep well, don’t be depressed. Here are a few practical, time-tested tips – in I-b-e-d:

I-b-e-d techniques help you have a restful sleep:

Individualize sleep hours.
Best practice on time.
Eliminate distractions.
Discover the cause (of sleep disorders).

1. Individualize your sleep hours, and get what you really need, whether is 6, 7, or even 9 hrs. Of course, more than 10 hours of sleep doesn’t make you healthier.

2. Best is to maintain so-called “sleep hygiene”, i.e. go to sleep at the same time every day and wake up at the same time.

3. Eliminate any distractions. These range from bedroom TV, computer, too much food before bed to thoughts and emotions. If necessary, discipline yourself: no coffee, no alcohol or smoking 6 hours before bed.

4. Discover the cause of sleep disorder, don’t rely on “sleeping pills”. There are various reasons responsible for sleep disorders: from stress, health complications to side effects from medication – including drug use or abuse, and drug withdrawal as well. Consult your physician, explore it and receive effective treatments.

How did your sleep impact your health? What’s your practice to get enough sleep?

Photo credit: by sean_mcgee