There are many science based reasons why you should make sure you sleep well. I have chosen three recent research reports for you.

 

Struggles with sleep may affect the risk of heart disease.

Doctor Chan-Won Kim, M.D, associate professor in Kangbuk Samsun Hospital in Seoul studied more than 47,000 young and middle-aged adults who completed a sleep questionnaire and had advanced tests to detect early coronary artery lesions. Early coronary lesions were detected as the presence of calcium in the coronary arteries and arterial stiffness.

After measuring coronary calcium, Dr Chan-Won group has found:
•    Adults who sleep five or fewer hours a day have 50 percent more calcium in their coronary arteries than those who sleep seven hours a day.
•    Those who sleep nine or more hours a day have more than 70 percent more coronary calcium compared to those who sleep seven hours.
•    Adults who reported poor sleep quality had more than 20 percent more coronary calcium than those who reported good sleep quality.

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Sleep interruptions are worse for your mood than an overall reduced amount of sleep.

shopkinsindexDoctor Patrick Finan, Ph.D studied 62 healthy men and women randomly subjected to three experimental sleep conditions. Three consecutive nights of either forced awakenings, delayed bedtimes or uninterrupted sleep.

“When your sleep is disrupted throughout the night, you don’t have the opportunity to progress through the sleep stages to get the amount of slow-wave sleep that is key to the feeling of restoration,” says Dr Finan. The study also suggests that the effects of interrupted sleep on positive mood can be cumulative, since the group differences emerged after the second night and continued the day after the third night of the study.

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Losing 30 minutes of sleep per day may promote weight gain and adversely affect blood sugar control.

Professor Shahrad Taheri, from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar recruited 522 patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus. He compared participants who had no weekday sleep debt with those who had weekday sleep debt. People from the latter group were 72% more likely to be obese.

Weekday sleep debt was significantly associated with obesity and insulin resistance. At 12 months, for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep debt the risk of obesity and diabetes was increased by 17% and 39%, respectively.

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From the neurophysiology point of view, falling asleep is slowing down the electrical activity of the brain. If the falling asleep process is monitored by EEG machine (which records brain waves) we can observe gradual change in brain waves frequency. It slows down from 40 per second to 4 per second. In other words, if we imagine the brain as an electric device, falling asleep is simply turning the volume down. Once you know how to do it you know how to fall asleep. It is as simple as that.

Fehmi Les WebDr Lester Fehmi, neuroscientist and psychologist from Princeton, found a revolutionary method of reducing activity in the brain. After many years of research he discovered that once we change the way we pay attention we can literally slow our brain down. Thanks to his method we can slow the whole brain to alpha frequency (about 10 per second) which is on the way to sleep.

We have designed a mind exercise based on Dr Fehmi’s findings which will help you to fall asleep. It will take you through a series of small attention tasks making your mind very calm and quiet. This exercise sounds gentle and soft like guided meditation but it is based on hard science. The slowing brain activity process will be additionally encouraged by binaural beats in theta frequency (even slower than alpha).

During the exercise I suggest working on the body sensation – a feeling – related to a worrying or stressful thought. The thought which keeps you awake. I found that once this feeling is not addressed and you accidentally flash it in your head just before falling asleep it can make your mind start chattering again in seconds. If there is nothing specific that keeps you awake just choose, instead of a feeling,  an area of your body that you can feel the best.

I hope this exercise will teach you what to do to fall asleep and how to do it on your own — without listening to the recording. I know for a fact that falling asleep is a ‘trainable’ skill and you can become a master in it. Please, be persistent and don’t give up too early. Good luck.

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Try Easing into sleep with music

1. Sleep Duration, Sleep Quality, and Markers of Subclinical Arterial Disease in Healthy Men and Women.
. Kim CW, Chang Y, Zhao D, Cainzos-Achirica M, Ryu S, Jung HS, Yun KE, Choi Y, Ahn J, Zhang Y, Rampal S, Baek Y, Lima JA, Shin H, Guallar E, Cho J, Sung E.
. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2015 Oct;35(10):2238-45
. [PubMed]

2. The Effects of Sleep Continuity Disruption on Positive Mood and Sleep Architecture in Healthy Adults
. Patrick H. Finan, PhD1; Phillip J. Quartana, PhD2; Michael T. Smith, PhD1
. SLEEP 2015;38(11):1735–1742.
. [SLEEP]

3. Losing 30 minutes of sleep per day may promote weight gain and adversely affect blood sugar control
. Shahrad Taheri
. ENDO 2015, March-2015
. [ENDO]