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Woman Sleeping

The BBC recently conducted a short study to assess the health effects of an extra hour of sleep. The article is well worth reading. Two high points:

  • During deep sleep memories are consolidated and moved into long-term storage. This consolidation must take place within 24 hours or the memories are lost. This is why it is important to prioritize adequate sleep during times when you are learning new things (e.g. finals week, the first few months in a new job, etc.)
  • The REM sleep phase is the only time, day or night, when the body stops producing adrenaline (a stress hormone). This creates a calm window of time for us to process and come to terms with emotionally-charged events from the day. Lack of adequate REM sleep can leave you feeling tense and anxious as unprocessed stressful emotions accumulate in the brain over the course of days or weeks.

But the really unique thing about this study is that the researchers assessed how just a single hour of additional sleep affects the expression of a number of 500 different genes. What they discovered is that when the volunteers cut back from seven-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hours’ sleep a night, genes that are associated with processes like inflammation, decreased immunity, and response to stress became more active. The team also saw increases in the activity of genes associated with diabetes and risk of cancer. The reverse happened when the volunteers added an hour of sleep.

But getting more sleep can be easier said that done, especially if you are one of millions of Americans who find it difficult to sleep well. Fortunately acupuncture offers proven relief for insomnia. I am also really excited about great results I’ve recently seen with doTERRA essential oils — their soothing aroma makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Give me a call or send me an email for more information!