BY JAMES MAAS
Sleep deprivation can cause an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes), type 2 diabetes, influenza, obesity, dental problems, depression, cancer, early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, time to recover from sickness and will reduce longevity. Perhaps most important is lack of quality sleep or enough sleep has a major affect on your immune system.
While you are sleeping your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Specific cytokines need to increase when you have inflammation, infection or stress. However, when you are sleep deprived production of protective cytokines is decreased, as well as infection-fighting antibodies and cells.
To make sure we have a strong immune system most adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night. Young children may need 10 or more hours, and teens perform best on 9 to 10 hours of sleep. It is also important to establish a regular sleep-wake schedule, going to sleep and getting up at the same time every night and day including weekends.
It is also important to sleep in a bedroom that is quiet, dark and cool (between 65 and 68 degrees). You must have a good pillow that supports your head, neck and spinal cord in a straight line (see the Dr. Maas Collection at www.ufdshop.com). Get plenty of exercise, focus on eating anti-inflammatory foods, avoid caffeine after 2pm and any alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. Do not use electronic devices such as TV, computers, iPads or cell phones within an hour of bedtime.
Sleep is the most important thing you can do to improve your general health, mood, performance and lifespan.
Dr. James B. Maas is a sleep educator/researcher who helped develop the Dr. Maas Sleep for Success line of pillows and comforters for United Feather and Down. He served for 48 years as professor, chair of Psychology and Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University. He lectured about sleep to more than 65,000 undergraduates, several of whom are now sleep doctors.