Aging Disorders: Could Sleep be a Fountain of Youth?

Research studies suggest that even a single night of experiencing poor sleep could increase risk of aging disordersYou know that not sleeping can leave you foggy and impair your reflexes and judgment, but did you know that a single night of poor sleep can actually accelerate the aging process and increase risk to aging disorders?

Researchers at UCLA studied 29 participants between the ages of 61 and 86 to determine the effects of restricted sleep. The subjects slept normally one night, were subjected to partial sleep deprivation by only sleeping four hours the next night, then slept normally the third night. Each morning, subjects provided blood samples used by the researchers to measure the number of peripheral blood mononuclear cells, an important part of the immune system.

Aging Disorders and Sleep

After a single night of partial sleep deprivation these cells showed signs of damage associated with arrested cell cycle and increased vulnerability to aging disorders. The study concludes the findings linked sleep deprivation with aging and supports the idea that not getting enough sleep actually does increase risk of age-related disease. Findings were presented in Seattle, WA at a recent meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Other studies have found that losing sleep can slow metabolism and interfere with hormone production, mimicking both the aging process and early stage diabetes.

It?s easy to ignore the effects of an occasional sleepless night, and it?s possible to become accustomed to extended periods of sleepless nights, but continued sleep deprivation could have a cumulative effects in terms of increasing the risk or severity of a number of chronic age-related conditions, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and even memory loss and cognitive decline.

Sleep deprived individuals risk developing aging disordersIt has been shown that men who are sleep deprived take approximately 40% longer to metabolize a high-carb meal and return to normal blood sugars when sleep deprived than it did when they had sufficient sleep. Men who are sleep deprived also had higher levels of cortisol in their bloodstream overnight than when they were rested. The increased cortisol levels were similar to those seen in people significantly older, and could be associated with increased insulin resistance and cognitive decline.

Think of sleep debt as similar to stress. Most research on sleep deprivation focuses on its effects on the brain, but there is a lot we have yet to discover about what happens when we sleep. Most studies on sleep deprivation find that blood sugar and hormone levels return to normal after a period of sleep recovery.

The average person is getting less sleep than they did a hundred years ago, from an average of 9 hours a night to an average of 7.5 hours a night. What is happening is we?re trading sleep for extra time to spend working or in leisure activities.

The take-home lesson on?aging?disorders is clear: If you want to stay young and healthy, get some more shut eye!

The Adrenal Fatigue Angle:
When the body is having trouble obtaining sleep, the risk of aging disorders increases significantlyRemember that in Adrenal Fatigue, the circadian rhythm of the body is disrupted, leading to poor quality of sleep that can leave sufferers tired even after a full night?s rest. When getting restful sleep is already a challenge for those with Adrenal Fatigue, it is critical to get enough sleep. We don?t want the body to deal with any more stress; staying up all night or getting not enough sleep means the body doesn?t get the rest it needs to try rebalance its blood sugar, blood pressure, hormones and achieve homeostasis. The Adrenal Fatigue body is already vulnerable and compromised, it doesn?t need to be sleep deprived as well!

Sleep and Body Regulation

One of the six key responses of the neuroendometabolic (NEM) complex is the neuro-affective response, which is mostly regulated by the autonomic nervous system, gut and brain. Stress begins as a response that initiates in the brain, through a specific part known as the hypothalamus. A number of neurotransmitters are released from the gut to the brain to maintain and regulate our moods, keeping a balance between alertness and rest. Inflammation in the gut that comes about from aggravating stress factors can lead to depression through the over activation of an important neurotransmitter known as norepinephrine. The neurotransmitter norepinephrine is responsible for the keeping the brain alert and when it is over stimulated, it can lead to symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. It is vital that stress be kept in check in order for our body to work efficiently and to avoid deregulation of NEM?s stress response to escape symptoms of insomnia.

Source: Presented at SLEEP 2015 (29th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies), 10 June 2015.

Aging Disorders
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  • Judy says:

    I to have decided to do the same small dose of sleep aid to get the rest at night I need I can not live like this any more. I need sleep! So I took half a sleep aid last night woke up feeling like a new person!

  • John says:

    Apart from prescription meds, what are the best remedies that an adrenal-challenged individual can use to establish healthy sleeping patterns? All comments welcome, but I would especially like to know Dr. Lam’s point of view.

    • Dr.Lam says:

      Sleep issues as it related to AFS comes come to either symptoms patching with natural compounds such as melatonin, thenanine, gaba, htp, valerian etc. there are so many on the market because none work so well to the exclusion of others. The biggest reason is because of individual variation. What works for one does not work well for others. Our approach tend to give the body the chance to fix its own biological rhythm because that is where imbalances occur and the root problem is. When that is healed, sleep automatically improves. This is the general concept. Read Biological Rhythm Disruptions & AFS for more information.

      Dr Lam

  • Carolyn Moody says:

    I completely agree with you. The problem is that adrenal fatigue causes insomnia and you can end up in a vicious cycle leading to exhaustion and accelerated aging. Despite doing all things natural for 8 years of chronic fatigue, 2 months ago I decided to try and break the insomnia cycle with a very low dose of sleeping pill. The result has been amazing! I sleep more than 8 hours a night and feel great the next day. I still get the energy crash in the afternoon, but I feel as though I have my life back. I don’t want to be reliant on medication forever. But just for the moment, I feel as though my adrenals are getting the rest they so desperately needed.