You already know the two basic tenants of staying healthy: Get regular exercise and make good dietary choices. It’s really pretty simple.
But that formula is missing one vitally important element that most people overlook: Sleep.
Without sufficient sleep, you might as well be setting up residency on your couch, eating nothing but chips and soda — it’s really that unhealthy.
And yet, many people feel they get along fine with less than seven to eight hours per night. And many people believe they need even less sleep as they get older.
They’re wrong on both counts — spectacularly wrong! And I’ll tell you why…
Time to dispel dangerous sleep myths
In a recent issue of Sleep Health, researchers at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine reported their findings after investigating common sleep myths.
The team reviewed more than 8,000 websites and collected opinions and commentary about sleep, and took note of the most popular misconceptions.
For instance, many believe snoring is no big deal. However, snoring may signal sleep apnea, which drastically increases heart disease risk.
Another common misconception is that a glass of wine (or any alcoholic drink) before bed can help you sleep better. And while it might help you nod off, it actually disrupts your ability to achieve deep, restorative sleep — which is where essential nightly healing occurs.
Researchers found that one of the most pervasive of all sleep myths concerns sleep deficits. A large number of people reported getting only about five hours of sleep on a regular basis — and they felt that was completely fine. But the researchers warn that just because you can “get by” with a lower amount of sleep, doesn’t mean you should.
In Dr. Fred Pescatore’s Perfect Sleep Protocol, he feels people need to start taking the value and restorative power of sleep more seriously, especially since dangerous sleeping habits promote poor health.
He says, “Even if you are otherwise healthy, skimping on sleep puts you on the path to type 2 diabetes by ruining your insulin receptors and affecting how you metabolize glucose.”
Dr. Pescatore also explains the three major ways that sleep deprivation can create metabolic danger in your body.
Poor sleep invites insulin resistance
In his protocol, Dr. Pescatore calls sleep deprivation a “tangled web” of high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
Trouble starts as soon as you begin to fall behind on your sleep. Right away, your body responds with a boost of the stress hormone cortisol.
Dr. Pescatore explains, “Instead of dipping in early evening as it normally would (allowing us to slow down and drift into a peaceful slumber), cortisol levels rise when we’re lacking sleep.”
At this point, things go from bad to worse because a rise in cortisol also lifts glucose levels. In fact, Dr. Pescatore says, regular lack of sufficient sleep steadily pumps up sugar levels.
And it gets worse…
Dr. Pescatore says, “Since the main M.O. of cortisol is to block the effects of insulin, the sleep-deprived among us are walking around in a state of insulin resistance. As you may know, insulin resistance opens the door wide open for diabetes (not to mention obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and more).”
Dr. Pescatore cites a study where just one week of sleep restriction on healthy adults with no blood sugar problems produced disastrous results. The participants’ fat cells showed a 30 percent lower response to insulin.
That sets up long-term dangers, Dr. Pescatore warns, by ruining your insulin receptors. In turn, this promotes dysfunctional glucose metabolism, leading to metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, or type 2 diabetes.
Insufficient sleep is a full-blown crisis
While sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your metabolism, it also sets off a dire chain of events, starting in your gut.
Dr. Pescatore notes your circadian rhythms control the trillions of microbes that make up the microbiome in your gut. Dr. Pescatore likes to call this “your internal body clock.” If you disrupt that 24-hour sleep-wake rhythm, you put the balance of your microbiome in jeopardy.
The result? Dr. Pescatore says, “You guessed it — weight gain, slowed metabolism, and poor blood sugar control.”
And that brings us to one more damaging effect of sleep deprivation: Inflammation.
“According to one study,” Dr. Pescatore says, “chronic insomnia triggered inflammation throughout the body. And, as you may know, inflammation leads to not only weight gain and type-2 diabetes, also cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and even earlier death.”
When you put all these issues together — chronic high cortisol, high blood sugar, insulin resistance, gut dysfunction, and inflammation — it’s clear that insufficient sleep is a health crisis that shouldn’t be ignored.
This is why Dr. Pescatore says, “I always tell my patients that sleep has to become a priority. There are just too many risk factors associated with too little sleep.”
Of course, these problems are exactly what Dr. Pescatore’s Perfect Sleep Protocol were designed to overcome. Click here to learn more about this comprehensive protocol, or to get started in sleeping better today.
“Sleep myths: an expert-led study to identify false beliefs about sleep that impinge upon population sleep health practices” Sleep Health 2019; Published online 4/16/19. oi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2019.02.002