Sleepless nights make for a shorter life

It seems that in the UK more than a third of us struggle to get a good night’s sleep at the end of the day.

When asked a in a 2011 research study by the Sleep Council, an advocate organisation for the bed industry,  the survey group revealed that 40% of them slept for six hours or fewer every night, 7% claiming fewer than 5 hours.

Meanwhile numerous clinical studies have pegged a ‘healthy’ sleeping pattern at a minimum of six hours.

With fewer than six hours sleep you are 12% more likely to experience a premature death due to serious health issues, particularly stroke and diabetes.

Lack of sleep raises blood pressure and elevates the heart rate; it also inhibits the body’s natural chemical functions, Surrey University has identified over 700 different genes which can be adversely affected by sleep deprivation.

It is believed that lack of sleep also produces an imbalance between the leptin and ghrelin hormones which regulate appetite leading to an increased desire for food which increases weight gain.

But, even with all the mounting evidence of the potential harm it can cause, Public Health England (PHE) believes that the need for sleep has been largely ignored by the population at large, particularly the middle aged between 40 and 60 years old.

All the lifestyle evidence shows that this age group is working longer hours, staying up later and rising earlier than previous generations.

A combination of stress, poor exercise, hyperactivity and unhealthy lifestyles is putting these forty and fifty somethings at extreme risk.

This generation is arriving home later from work and rising earlier to get back there.

Smartphones and tablets mean that being away from a place of work is no longer any protection against its stress and anxiety invading your private space.

Work related emails and messaging, as well as social media, have stolen a significant proportion of what would otherwise have been ‘down time’.

On demand content providers and hundreds of media outlets mean that our need for distraction and entertainment can be met at any time of day or night, often at the expense of going to sleep at a regular time.

PHE wants to raise awareness of the need for sleep which it stresses is every bit as important as eating and exercising properly.

The authorities believe that poor sleeping patterns are contributing to general obesity issues and other related health issues.

One expert described it as the ‘next ticking time bomb‘ facing the health service.

Which is all very well, but my sleeping used to be difficult enough thanks to the aches and pains of middle age and the curse of an overactive mind; now I’m so scared it’s going to kill me I can hardly close my eyes at all.




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