Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why We Need Sleep

Sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system. According to Matthew Walker, PhD and author of Why We Sleep.  I go back in time and think about when I was diagnosed with Crohn's and have to admit it was a time in my life that I was getting less than six hours sleep on a regular basis.

Is it possible that my lack of sleep for the months preceding my diagnosis was the cause of my Crohn's? If so, that really sucks!

He explains a study in which one group had seven to nine hours sleep each night for six days, and compared it to a group that were restricted to only four hours a sleep those days. The group that got ample sleep showed a powerful antibody response to a flu shot, reflecting a healthy immune system. 

The group that had four hours sleep produced less than 50% of the immune reaction of the well slept group. Similar responses occurred to vaccines tested. Worse yet, the sleep deprived group showed diminution in immune cells a year following this lack of sleep. Wow! 

Dr. Walker explains in his book that according to Dr. Michael Irwin at the University of California, who has performed studies on sleep deprivation affects your cancer-fighting immune cells, just a single night of this type of sleep deprivation sweeps away 70% of the natural killer cells circulating in the immune system as compared to a full eight-hour.

I'm going to explain the best I can as to how and why a lack of sleep causes cancer, because what I'm reading seems that the same thing could cause Crohn's. There isn't anything in the book that studied Crohn's but the same logic could certainly apply.

The sympathetic nervous system is the "fight or flight" response we have when we are stressed. It's what increases our heart rate, why we sweat, breathe heavy, etc. It also will create inflammation as a way to deal with a physical threat. When we lack sleep, our sympathetic nervous activity will go into overdrive, and this inflammation response that is supposed to be temporary remains. 

Cancer feed on inflammation. With Crohn's being an inflammatory disease, doesn't it make sense that this prolonged state of inflammation could cause other responses by the body?  I'm hopeful this research will result in inflammatory bowel diseases and lack of sleep. 

What I definitely have learned, is sleep is essential to a healthy body, brain, immune system, etc. and certainly part of a remission plan.

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